Since my return to the sport I recalled aspects of pigeon racing management in the 1950s and early 60s whilst in partnership with my father. Reflecting upon our system of the time I knew that I had to learn lessons from that period if I wanted to pursue my objective of breeding for and winning from distances of 300 miles plus. For as I have said and written often the channel programme from France and Britain into the north west of Ireland is in the words of Gordon Chalmers ' the toughest of tough routes'. Now my reason for prefacing this article with the foregoing is
that in my research for it I found myself in total agreement with its subject Andre Brouckaert. For the reader I offer my shared thinking with the great Belgium flyer:
(1) if you exploit a pigeon from an early age its career will not last more than 4 years;
(2) for long distance racing such exploitation is the height of folly for a pigeon requires in practice 3 years to become ready to face its long endurance tasks;
(3) always treat your pigeons with the aforegoing thoughts in mind and eventually one will create a type of long distance and marathon pigeon, if the blood is right. The latter principles of management and the truth contained therein were confirmed by Andre Brouckaerts achievements at the ultra distances.
Brouckaert built his family upon the strains of Vanbruaene, Cattrysse, Van Hee, and Stichelbaut. Based upon the objective of creating a strain capable of winning at the longer distances. A project of pure specialization. Eventually culminating in the builder becoming the first Extra Long Distance Champion Of Belgium. The latter but one of many achievements recorded in an illustrious career in the sport. Randomly choosing from the results relating to Brouckaert for example in 1990 when no Belgium won any of the 4 International Competitions of that year he won the prestigious Colombe Joyeuse European Cup. A competition based upon the same races from Pau, Barcelona, Marseille, and Perpignan. A reward which crowned Brouckaert as an international champion. Prior to this he was the Long Distance Champion of Belgium in 1975 and 1978 as well as winning the St.Vincent National in 1980 and the Lourdes National in 1984. The lofts also won an international young bird race in Japan in 1986.
The go slow aspect of management as revealed earlier in this article ensured that Brouckaert had pigeons winning at the ultra distances at the ages of 6 and 7 years old. Unlike many others his racers were not burned out before their prime. Yes, patience is a virtue and Andre Brouckaert had it in abundance which is one of the main reasons that he was a master of his chosen sport. It is a valuable lesson that many have yet to pay heed to, both old and young, therefore may it become the norm in the present and future management of our thoroughbreds.
Author : Liam O Comain
Edited : Martin Degrave