Most fanciers will be familiar with the kind Dutchman, who works as a loft manager for PIPA. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and he particularly looks to talk about pigeon racing, his favourite sport.
Frederik Leliaert is genuinely passionate about pigeon racing, he is captivated by the game. He enjoys discovering the limits of a pigeon, to then try and expand these limits. This is one of the challenges in pigeon racing for Frederik, who focuses mainly on the marathon competition, or the international classics of the extreme long distance.
Racing, performing, selecting
Frederik Leliaert can be quite a demanding fancier, he is by no means merciful towards his pigeons. Every pigeon that can fly will be basketed, and will be enduring a high number of training flights or races. Pigeons that fall through will be left behind.
At the start of the season his pigeons are basketed every single week until Argenton (two weeks before Agen), no matter the weather. After that they have an international classic every two weeks, with the ZLU races from Bordeaux-Agen, St. Vincent and Narbonne. This was the racing season for the yearlings and the old birds (2 year old) in 2015. Many fanciers think this is too much for a pigeon but Frederik says this is how he selects his strongest pigeons. Only the strongest birds will make it through to the end of the season. This is matter of survival of the strongest! Not every fancier is fond of this approach but this is the way things go here in Aardenbrug, and this approach has made Frederik an internationally renowned fancier. His nickname is understandably the “The tyrant of Zeeland”, although the wizard of Zeeland would also suit him well. His four national victories between 2007 and 2015 did not happen overnight, they are the result of a successful strategy, which led to the creation of a strong pigeon breed.
An impressive comeback thanks to the Dees dynasty
After spending a few years in Belgium, Frederik managed to claim a national first prize from St. Vincent against 3,714 old birds already in his second season back in Zeeland. His winning pigeon was Tarzan, a late youngster of 2014 (with an old ring)! This is quite exceptional: a late young birds (with 4 old primaries!) has claimed victory against an entire field of experienced extreme long distance pigeons. In fact, his national winner was also the only Dutch pigeon to arrive home on the day of the release, which is quite a feat!
It was already the 4th national first prize for Frederik in his early career as a fancier. No one doubts his potential as a pigeon fancier. In addition, he is fortunate to be able to work with pigeons of the invaluable Dees dynasty (from Dees Van Kerckhoven), which are an integral part of this success story. In fact, each of his four national first prize winners is related to this top quality line:
-Dees: 1st Int. Bordeaux 7,213 p. in 2007 and 1st Nat. Narbonne 3,816 p. in 2008
-Horus: 1st Nat. Bordeaux yearlings 3,835 p. in 2010
-Tarzan: 1st Nat. St. Vincent 3,714 p. in 2015 (see pedigree)
Racing birds Aton (7th Nat. Narbonne) and Jan (1st prov./5th Nat. Bourges, 14th Nat. Libourne and 32nd Nat. Limoges) come from the same bloodlines.
It is remarkable that almost every top result from these top class racing birds has been won in tough weather conditions, with a velocity of around 1100 m/min, including the race from St. Vincent. Can you think of a long distance pigeon family that could exceed this level of performance? Several other lofts have achieved excellent results in the long distance and the extreme long distance thanks to the Dees bloodline (click here for the references).
Best yearling in The Netherlands over 3 national marathon races
Some of you might remember supercrack Eduardo. This pigeon won the title of Best ZLU pigeon WHZB 2010, just before Frederik decided to start racing pigeons in Belgium in 2011. It was his last national ace pigeon title in The Netherlands. The dam of Eduardo has bred another invaluable young bird this season when she was paired to Maximus. This promising new bird is called Armando, and he is the best one year old in The Netherlands (and perhaps at international level?) over three international races.
Best yearling in The Netherlands in 2015 over 3 national races extreme long distance! 77 Nat Narbonne 5,338 p. 129 Intnat Narbonne 8,447 p. 316 Nat St.Vincent 3,714 p. 859 Intnat St.Vincent 10,737 p. 376 Nat Agen-Bordeaux 5,055 p.
It is unfortunate that there is no PIPA ranking or another official ace pigeon title for this remarkable achievement. There are not many yearlings that managed to complete three international races. We can imagine that it takes a “Tyrant of Zeeland” to achieve such great results with your yearlings! It shows that the Leliaert pigeons have great strength and character.
Frederik Leliaert has a bright future ahead, with his invaluable Dees pigeons, combined with the golden line of Eduardo and a few newly introduced pigeons (obtained from some fellow colleagues). He can look forward to the next few seasons with great ambition, aiming for a fifth national first prize or a new ace pigeon title. These are his main objectives, we hope his opponents will be ready.