Christian Leroy (Astene-Deinze, BE) winner of 1° National Chateauroux 16,477 old birds!

His hen was also the fastest pigeon of the whole pack of 32,271 pigeons. Last year, that same hen was also winner of 35° Nat. Bourges against 20,589 pigeons. Nice work!

The national Chateauroux was the first of two national flights that were organised by the KBDB. There were 120,000 pigeons less at the starting line compared to last year, which is a pity. Some think this is due to a troubled preparation, but we think this cannot be the only reason. After all, we have had some fine weather in the classics in the last three weeks. We heard that the new KBDB management is tempted to organise even more national grand middle distance races in the future, but we wonder if this actually a good idea. The shorter the race, the bigger the impact of weather, wind, location and the number of pigeons is. These are very important factors in a race of about 500km. Initially these races were popular and fanciers aimed for national success. But we know from experience that fanciers would rather stay at home or send in a very small team for a national race if they have no chances of success because of these factors. The rest of the colony is then entered into a shorter middle distance race or even a sprint race, just to keep them busy. Some fanciers just keep the rest of the colony at home, waiting for a new chance next week at a provincial or (semi)national classic grand middle distance race. What can we do about this trend? There is no single answer to this problem. It would be interesting to find a good balance, giving some of the national classics a special status (like for instance Bourges in July) and dividing the country in for instance two parts for the rest of the season. These parts could organise for instance semi-national classics of about 500km in different zones, with the release site alternately located at the left or the right side or at the diameter of that zone. Fanciers have more equal chances in a zone with a small geographic spread. But of course, the weather will inevitably decide what direction the winning fancier comes from. But this is just an idea, to inspire the management in Halle. But enough on that, let’s go back to Christian Leroy’s win in Chateauroux.

Christian Leroy winner in Chateauroux old birds

The national winner of the old birds is one of a kind. She was the fastest pigeon in Chateauroux and she overpowered the rest of the pack at a speed of 1256,43m/min, finishing the 483.203km race after 13h24’35”. The pigeon is renamed ‘Wonder’ BE10-4007640 and she is a real superstar, delivering two exceptional performances in two weeks’ time:  last week she also won 35° national Bourges against 20,589 old birds and a 2° locally against 634 old birds in middle distance club Eeklo. But these are not her first successes:

In 2012:
02/6 Chateauroux 3,852 p. 1
           Nat  16,477 p. 1
26/5 Bourges       634 p. 2
           Nat  20,589 p. 35
19/5 Vierzon       185 p. 7
           Prov  5,893 p. 185
12/5 Angerville    501 p. 15
In 2011:
18/6 La Chatre     131 p. 38
11/6 Chateauroux   136 p. 3
04/6 Chateauroux   222 p. 2
         N.Zone 10.587 p. 63
         Nat    25.263 p. 126
28/5 Bourges       416 p. 74
21/5 Vierzon       206 p. 59
15/5 Blois         144 p. 21
30/4 Clermont      233 p. 31
23/4 Clermont      188 p. 51

Her father is bred from an extreme long distance cock of his brother and neighbour Firmin Leroy (a crossing of a 1° Nat St.Vincent 12,214p. x 3° Nat Dax etc.) x a hen from the old lines of Christian. This hen stems from a crossing of two pigeons from friends of his, Robert Bondroit and Etienne Welvaert (you can find the entire pedigree here).  Sadly enough, her mother was eaten by a cat this winter. At the moment, it is still unclear what will happen to this weekend’s winner. A bid has already been made but he might as well just keep her in the loft and race with her. “She is the best pigeon in my loft. If I sell her I would miss her in the weekends of course”, says Christian. This is understandably a very difficult choice. In Chateauroux he had entered six pigeons in the race, three old birds and three yearlings. In each category two out of three pigeons took a prize, plus of course the national victory!

Christian and his brother Firmin were both florists for a very long time. About twelve years ago Christian decided to switch to pigeon racing; his pigeons were housed in a barn of their parents. A short while ago the barn was taken down, so the racing pigeons had to get used to a new loft above his garage. There is room for only two sections, one for the old racing pigeons and one for the youngsters. He does not have breeders. Initially his colony had 16 racing hens and about 50 youngsters. Today, 14 hens and 26 youngsters are left, so Christian races with hens in widowhood only. Their partners are the cocks that stay at home. Before the season, Christian bred a round of youngsters in the old barn, after which they were transferred to the new loft above the garage. There, they had a second round of youngsters. That explains why the hen had already lost three feathers when she took the national victory. He had a total of 25 youngsters from his own breeders, in addition to a few pigeons of his brother Firmin Leroy, and a few youngsters of Filip Teirlinck. This makes a total of 50 youngsters, of which about one half is already lost. At the moment, there are only 54 pigeons in his loft.

Before they leave, the hens get to see their cocks for about thirty minutes. When they come home, they can see them until the evening, or after they come home from the club to open the clocks. The pigeons are trained every day in the morning, but they are not very industrious: their training rides usually take no longer than 20 minutes, sometimes they train for five minutes only.

When it comes to feed, Christian relies on the mixtures of Matador, and he basically uses the schemes that were put together by the company: the week starts with the Start-mixture, and by Wednesday he switches to Racing Mixture and Energy Mixture. On the final day, they can eat this mixture as much as they want. Some cider acid and garlic (which purifies their blood) is added to the drinking water, as well as an iodine-based product. Vitamins are never added to the feed though. Before the start of the season they are taken to the vet, but everything seemed okay this season. They were only given the compulsory treatment for paramyxo. On the other hand, a lot of attention is paid to the eyes of the pigeon: they are given eye drops before they leave and when they come home, and he uses different types of drops throughout the season.

In normal circumstances Christian would play his hens on the grand middle distance every week, and in the 2011 season they raced six weeks in a row. This weekend they had been basketed for the third time consecutively. But he wonders if he should basket them again next weekend or just give them a break. “But the past week has been quite busy for me. I prefer a quiet afternoon playing cards with my friends. But I know that this is part of the game, and I don’t mind the attention. Friends came over to congratulate me, and that really pleases me. For a small fancier like me, this is a dream come true!” Congratulations Christian!

Pictures of the fancier and his winning pigeon can be found here