Stijn and Jeroen Rans (Wijgmaal, BE) claim two national first prizes in 7 extreme long distance races this season

There are seven races on the international extreme long distance calendar, which makes winning a national first prize quite a task. Believe it or not, Stijn and Jeroen Rans have managed to win not one but two first prizes this season, which is something only our sport's great are able to achieve.

Stijn, Rudi and Jeroen Rans

Genuine long distance bloodlines

Stijn and Jeroen got involved in the sport at an early age, thanks to their grandfather Frans Rans and their uncle Alex Rans. They launched their career in 1990 with pigeons of Frans and Alex, and of Willy Behets, Jos Vanderstappen and Jos Creten. This foundation was strengthened along the way with genuine long distance birds from Remy Speltdoorn, the Rommelaere loft, Luc Wiels, Christiaens-Desmedt, De Smeyter-Restiaen and Francis & Bart Verdeyen. Some of these birds were purchased in the annual long distance sale of Sans Peur Herent, where Stijn and Jeroen have bought quite a few talented breeding birds over the years.

Their best breeding birds today are Ed (male) and Barcelonaduivin (female). Ed, a grandson of the renowned Joost of De Smeyter-Restiaen, was purchased in the total auction of Declercq-Vervaeren on PIPA, and he is the sire of a 1st National Perpignan. Barcelonaduivin on the other hand comes from the lines of Robert Van Eycken (via Jos Vanderstappen), which gained prominence as the 1st International Ace Pigeon Barcelona 2007-212. In addition, she is 2nd Primer Inter Pares 2008-2012 and 7th Primus Inter Pares 2007-2011. She was a highly talented racing hen with a long standing career. Click here for her pedigree.

The best breeding hen in Wijgmaal: Barcelonaduivin

A new system since 2015

After racing their hens from the nest and their cocks in widowhood for several years, the brothers agreed in 2015 to race their birds differently. Jeroen explains: "We discussed the issue with Dirk Christiaens, who had successfully adopted the system of Arjan beens for many years now, racing both the cocks and the hens after ten days of brooding." This new approach paid off for team Rans as well, with Aagje winning the PIPA ranking for Best pigeon from Agen 2014-2015. Stijn and Jeroen were convinced that their new system would be an improvement, and their results of 2017 proved them right.

Two national victories in 2017

Stijn and Jeroen started the season with 68 pairs of old birds and yearlings together, divided over six lofts. The first training flights began in February, followed by a period of darkening in late February. The pigeons are paired for the first time in April. Darkening goes on until the beginning of May, when the pigeons train twice a day for an hour and fifteen minutes. This should prepare them for a set of three long distance races or two extreme long distance races (olds), or just two long distance races (yearlings). Meanwhile they are basketed for Soissons (190km) and Momignies (110km), depending on the weather. This is a demanding schedule but it has really paid off, judging from their results throughout 2017. Their victory in the opening and closing race of the extreme long distance season was the icing on the cake.

1st National in the opening classic from Pau (Mont-de-Marsan)

The opening classic from Pau (Mont-de-Marsan) was scheduled for 23rd of June, and it was racing bird BE14-2173219 Zwarte Weduwe that took a convincing national first prize. She caught Jeroen by surprise: "I was still on my way home, since I did not expect the pigeons to get home for another 20 minutes. Stijn did not see her come home either. He went inside for a moment and he saw her sitting on the sputnik as he got back outside." Zwarte Weduwe claims a 3rd International Olds and a 1st International Hens. Jeroen: "We are not completely sure of her first prize in the hens' race yet: since we doubled our hen, she is not yet included in the preliminary results of the WPROL. We have to wait and see." Zwarte Weduwe owes her name to her breeding habits: every time she finds a cock, the cock will stay behind while she continues to brood on her own. Besides her top result from Pau she was very successful in Bergerac as well, winning a 30th Interprovincial of 1,678 pigeons. She had already won a 45th Prov. Montélimar 353 p. (2016) and a 147th Interprov. Narbonne 835 p. (2015) earlier on.

The sire of Zwarte Weduwe is the 505/05 of Jacques Versonnen, which also bred an 8th Interprov. Bergerac. The dam of Zwarte Weduwe, 644/10, was bred by Declercq-Vervaeren and obtained from R. Bruyninck. She is a genuine De Smeyter-Restiaen and a half sister of Annelies, the best one year old hen in the international races in 2011 in the PIPA rankings. The two sisters come from the same sire, which is a son of Joost (1st Internat. Perpignan Yearlings 2003). Click here for the full pedigree of Zwarte Weduwe.

Zwarte Weduwe, 1st National Pau 2017

1st National and a great overall result in the closing race from Perpignan

They had a solid start to the season and Stijn & Jeroen had a great result in the closing weeks of the season as well, winning a 1st and 4th National Perpignan, 4 x top 25 National and 5 x top 100 National:

Perpignan National  4,620 p.: 1-4-20-23-53-336-447-479-989 (9/21)
Perpignan CFW       1,273 p.: 1-2-5-6-18-91-124-132-275-396-404 (11/21)
Perpignan Provincial  581 p.: 1-2-5-6-9-44-59-64-133-190-194 (11/21)
Perpignan Club        123 p.: 1-2-3-4-5-12-17-19-31-40-41 (11/21)

The winner of the 1st National Perpignan is BE13-2185289 Frans, named after the grandfather of Stijn and Jeroen, who passed away last year. Again, the two fanciers did not see the pigeon arrive home. "We were selecting old birds for an intermediate race from Soisson as I saw a pigeon come home. I assumed it did not come from Perpignan. It was only when he landed on the board that I realised we did have a very early finisher from Perpignan after all." Frans already has a few top results on his palmares, including a 294th Interprov. Chalon-sur-Saône 3,589 p. (2017) and a 135th Nat. Limoges 13,493 p. (2016).

The national winner comes from the best breeding cock and breeding hen in Wijgmaal: Ed x Barcelonaduivin. Ed is a grandchild of Joost (1st Internat. Perpignan Yearlings 2003), just like the dam of the 1st Nat. Pau. He is also the sire of a 53rd Nat. Perpignan 2017, the last of five pigeons to finish in the national top 100 in Perpignan. Like we said earlier, Barcelonaduivin became 1st International Ace Pigeon Barcelona 2007-212, as well ad 2nd and 7th Primer Inter Paris. She has played an important role in this year's race from Perpignan, with another grandchild (53rd Nat.) and great-grandchild (23rd Nat.) finishing in the top 100 as well. Click here for the complete pedigree of Frans.

Frans, 1st National Perpignan 2017

Further development

If you think of the money that fanciers are willing to pay for a pigeon, many fanciers would be tempted into selling their national winners, or at least one of them. Stijn and Jeroen have a different take: "We wanted to use them as breeders, so that we could further develop our breeding loft. In other words: they will not be sold." This is a smart move from two fanciers with a bright future in pigeon racing.