Kristof en Deborah Mortelmans
2012 was the only season when Kristof failed to win a national championship title. The reasons is that he was only racing a team of young birds at the time, which were to be raced in the extreme long distance later on as old birds. He started winning championship titles from 2013 onwards:
2013: 6th Nat. Champion KBDB Yearlings Long Distance (with a team of 13 yearlings) 2014: 8th Nat. Ace Pigeon KBDB Grote Fond Jaarlingen (a nephew of Jelle) 2015: 2nd Nat. Champion KBDB Extreme Long Distance Old Birds 10th Nat. Ace Pigeon KBDB Extreme Long Distance Yearlings (Spolle) 2016: 1st Nat. Ace Pigeon KBDB Extreme Long Distance Old Birds (Barcarcas ‘Red Ace’)
He also managed to win five provincial victories in that same time span:
1st Prov. Libourne 757 yearlings 1st Prov. Agen 413 yearlings 1st Prov. Montauban 280 yearlings 1st Prov. Libourne 916 yearlings 1st Prov. Narbonne 456 olds
From an early age
Kristof got involved in pigeon racing from a very early age: his two grandfathers were renowned sprint fanciers and Kristof created his own racing team already at the age of 12. He would often visit other lofts to watch the pigeons arrive home from a long distance race, but his own pigeons were only basketed for the sprint races at the time. Eventually Kristof struggled to successfully combine his pigeon loft with his studies and his job (he works as a vet in poultry farms) so he decided to quit the sport for a while. But he has never spent an entire year without keeping pigeons. He returned to his old passion in 2012, making a fresh start.
The extreme long distance
This time Kristof was eager to compete in the extreme long distance, his favourite discipline. He visited Jean-Pierre Raemdinck-Ruys from Hamme, winner of a Silver Wing award and the overall winner of the PIPA IATP Ranking in 2010 (1st nominated pigeon in the international races from Pau, Barcelona, Tarbes, Marseille and Perpignan). Kristof obtained 30 young birds from Jean-Pierre's best breeders, which he used in his racing loft. It was a great success; four of these young birds proved exceptionally talented (but we let you be the judge of that), and at least one of them is an outright champion. We take a closer look at these four talented racing birds.
Jelle is the star of this team, and the kind of pigeon many fanciers hope to add to their collection one day. He won a 1st Prov. Libourne as a yearling in one of the most demanding editions ever, beating 756 opponents (11th nat. 6,134 p.). Jelle had a lead of almost 30 minutes over his closest opponent, and he was the only pigeon with a velocity of over 1,000 m/min. He won a 2nd Provincial Limoges 1,407 old birds as a two year old, as well as a 2nd Provincial Montauban 526 old birds. Only 50 of a total of 1,407 pigeons reached a velocity of over 1,100 m/min in Limoges, and only 32 pigeons reached that speed in Montauban. His excellent results earned him the title of first provincial ace pigeon.
Jelle, an exceptional racing bird and an outstanding breeder
The sire of Jelle comes from the breed of Roger Vereecke from Deerlijk (through Gilbert Van Hasselt, who excelled in the last two races from Barcelona, which were very hard). The dam comes from Guido van Vlierberghe, who achieved great results with pigeons of Herman Brinkman. The great-grandmother from his father's side is a full sister of Nightflyer (2nd Nat. Brive). Click here for the full pedigree of Jelle.
Zwarte Staart (BE12-6079887)
Zwarte Staart finished in ninth place in the race from Libourne which Jelle won. At the age of two he finished in 30th place of 477 pigeons, and as such he claimed a 34th place in the PIPA ranking for Best pigeon from Libourne 2013-2014. He moved to the breeding loft in 2015. He was initially called Kleine Zwarte but was renamed Zwarte Staart (Black Tail) after he arrived home from a race from Noyon ten days late, heavily exhausted and with no tail. He recovered very quickly and Kristof decided to basket him for Libourne, even though his tail had only grown a few centimeters. He surprised everyone with a 30th place of 476 pigeons, which goes to show that a talented pigeon will always get back on his feet, no matter what.
Kleine Zwarte a.k.a. Zwarte Staart
The sire of Zwarte Staart (363/02) is one of the best breeders for Jean-Pierre Raemdonck and he is also the grandfather of Barcarcas Red Ace from his mother's side, winner of a 1st nat. ace pigeon title for Kristof. The dam is a full sister of the 055/07, winner of a 23rd/405 Montelimar, a 7th/279 Tarbes and a 9th/254 Oranges. Click here for Zwarte Staart's full pedigree.
Dannie Narbonne (BE12-4019233)
The third young bird of this lot is Dannie Narbonne. He has won a 10th/372 and a 21st/359 St.-Vincent, which made him 18th best pigeon from St. Vincent 2013-2014. He also won a 21st/256 Montauban and a 7th/110 Gueret.
Vale Narbonne a.k.a. Dannie Narbonne
Dannie Narbonne was initially called Vale Narbonne but he was renamed Dannie Narbonne, in analogy with his closest relatives Jamie, Eddie and Kenjie (their names also end with an e-sound). The grandfather from his mother's side is none other than Rode Barcelona (BE06-4358112), winner of a silver wing in 2010 with a 7th nat. Barcelona of 12,641 pigeons (11th int. 25,750 p.). He is also related to long distance champion Roger Vereecke from his father's side. Click here for Dannie's impressive pedigree. Dannie had been one of the stars in the races from Narbonne but his first youngsters proved to be even more successful than him. Despite his age Dannie has already proven to be an exceptional breeder. He is the sire of:
1st prov. Agen 413 yearlings (Jamie 114/14) 5th prov. Marseille 322 olds ( Eddie 983/13) 8th prov. Cahors (Kenjie 631/13) 14th prov. Libourne (Kenjie 631/13) 17th prov. Libourne 512 yearlings (Eddie 983/13)
The last pigeon of the 'fab four' is called Vos. He is a half brother of the Silver Wing of 2010 (from the same sire) and he is particularly fond of long distance racing. This is where he really shines. He won an 8th of 526 pigeons in Montauban, a 15th of 754 pigeons in Perpignan and a 15th of 170 pigeons. The dam of Vos comes from the loft of Gilbert Van Hasselt. Like we said, his sire is also the sire of the Silver Wing of 2010. His grandfather from his father's side (350/98) comes from the loft of Herman Brinkman, the grandmother (156/00) originates from Jean Hausoul from Epen (NL), who did really well with his Zwarte Moordenaars of Braekhuis. The grandfather and grandmother of the 156/00 have won a 7th and 14th Nat. St. Vincent respectively. Unfortunately Vos did not return home from the race from Perpignan in 2015 but Kristof still has two of his youngsters in his collection, and they have proven to be quite talented as well:
4th provincial St.-Vincent 344 YL (19th nat. 2,562 YL) 16th prov. Limoges 989 YL
Barcarcas Red Ace (BE13-6202996)
To get an idea of the origins of Barcarca Red Ace we have to go back to 2011, when the total auction of Wiel Cramers from Grevenbicht took place. His pigeons have shown great determination but their plumage is always of great quality as well. Kristof described it as follows: "pigeons with heavy feathers." He obtained two summer youngsters, and one of them was Rode Cramers (309/11), a grandson of an 8th nat. St. Vincent paired to a 3rd Nat. Tarbes. This pigeon would become the sire of Batcarcas Red Ace. Apparently Barcarcas's excellent plumage was inherited from his sire. His dam is a half sister of Zwarte Staart. The grandmother from his father's side is an aunt of the Silver Wing of 2012, which means he comes from that same successful pairing of Hausoul x Brinkman. Click here for the full pedigree of Barcarcas Red Ace.
Barcarcas Red Ace won the title of 1st nat. ace pigeon with the following palmares:
22nd nat. Barcelona 7,693 p. 2nd nat. Narbonne 4,118 p.
Barcarcas was really put to the test as a young bird, with 2 races over 120km, 2 races over 300km, 3 middle distance races (360km) and finally the provincial race from Gien (410km). He got a well deserved break after that. He really excelled as a three year old but he did great at an earlier age as well: 57th of 634 pigeons from Limoges, 53rd of 372 pigeons from St. Vincent and a 47th of 321 pigeons from Jarnac.
De Spolle (BE14-6193174)
The year 2015 was one of the best seasons for Kristof in his early career, winning no less than three provincial first prizes. Two of these provincial victories were won by one and the same bird: De Spolle. He had already demonstrated his potential with a 5th of 264 pigeons from Guéret. He also won a first prize in an unofficial race from St. Quentin, in which the pigeons took off from a different location due to bad weather. He really excelled in 2015:
1st prov. Libourne 916 p. with 1128 m/min (95th nat. 5,890 p.) 1st prov. Montauban 280 p. with 1185 m/min (30th nat. 2,124 p.) 10th Nat. Ace Pigeon KBDB Extreme Long Distance Yearlings
Kristof's wife Debora had purchased a pigeon (973/11) from the Verweij-Castricum combination in Mijdrecht (NL) the year before, and this pigeon developed into an exceptional breeder. He is not only the sire of De Spolle but also of a 2nd provincial Narbonne, an 8th provincial Narbonne, and 18th provincial Brive, etc. This 973/11 is an inbred to the renowned Bonte breeding pair of Nico Volkens from his mother's side. Both the international winner of Perpignan 2016 of Tekin Mevlut and the first international Pau 2016 of Kees Droog are related to the Nico Volkens breed. It shows that Kristof has a deliberate strategy when it comes to buying new pigeons.
The dam of Spolle is called Prachtexemplaartje, and she is one of Jelle's first daughters. She apparently inherited quite a few of Jelle's qualities. Prachtexemplaartje's dam is one of the 30 pigeons that Kristof obtained from Raemdonck-Ruys; she is a daughter of a 64th national Cahors of 7347 pigeons. Spolle proved just a bit more talented than his nest brother Kobe (BE14-6193173) but you could be confident that Kobbe would arrive home no more than 10 minutes after his big brother. In fact, the two brothers have played an important role in winning a second place in the national championship extreme long distance 2015. Click here for Spolle's pedigree.
Agen (Bordeaux) is the second provincial race that Kristof added to his palmares. Bordeaux will always be one of the most appealing long distance classics on the calendar. His provincial winner Jamie (15th Nat. 2,767 p.) is a son of top class racing and breeding bird Dannie Narbonne. Besides his provincial win from Agen Jamie also won a 5th Perpignan of 504 pigeons and a 43rd Agen of 422 pigeons.
Jamie's dam Donker Vetsje was purchased from neighbouring fancier Paul Vets (Broechem-Ranst). Paul already had a 1st Nat. Narbonne and a 1st Internat. Biarritz on his palmares before he went on to win a Bronze Wing award in the Bruges Barcelona Club in 2010 with Alexander (BE05-6245088). Alexander had claimed a 9th place national of 12,641 pigeons. As the pigeons reached their home country the following day, temperatures were exceeding 35 C° even in Belgium. The national first prize was won with a velocity of 953.96 m/min, which clearly shows that the 2010 edition was a very tough race indeed. It was in this race that Jean Pierre Raemdonck-Ruys won the Silver Wing award. Kristof could not think of a better breed to combine his descendants of Raemdonck's Silver Wing with than with a daughter of this Bronze Wing 2010. It proved a defining moment in Kristof's career. Donker Vetsje was paired to Dannie Narbonne (a grandson of Silver Wing) when she became the dam of a 1st Provincial Agen, a 5th Provincial Perpignan, a 5th Provincial Marseille, an 8th provincial Cahors and several other prize winners. Other results can be found in Jamie's pedigree.
Donker Vetsje, the dam of a 1st Prov. Agen
Genuine class and health
Anyone who read this report must have noticed that Kristof is fond of pigeons of genuine class, and more particularly pigeons that can really stand out in races in demanding conditions. Another point of consideration for him is the general health of his racing birds. You might not expect this from a veterinary surgeon but Kristof does not use any cures if there is no reason to. Kristof keeps his pigeon breed healthy with a daily dose of bleach (1ml/litre drinking water). This is a widely used remedy in the poultry industry and it protects against the most common diseases. His lofts are very basic and they do not resemble what most fanciers would consider to be a well equipped loft. The fronts and the sides consist of ordinary non-isolated concrete panels, and the roofs are covered with corrugated sheets. Kristof installed ropes at the frontside of the loft below the sputniks; the top half is covered entirely in glass. During the racing season the ropes are replaced with a windbreak mesh but during the winter the pigeons live out in the open (the wind can literally blow through the lofts). "The pigeons really toughen up during the winter", Kristof explains.
When asked about his biggest ambitions, he said: "I hope to become national champion extreme long distance one day." It might be a fun question for our next PIPA Christmas quiz: "In what year will Kristof Mortelmans become 1st Nat. Champion KBDB Extreme Long Distance?" Provided of course that he has not won that title by the end of 2017.