Willy Maes and his wife at the "outlook table"
Designer Club de Fond Wallonie had 19.058 youngsters and 4.331 old pigeons for the autumn classic La Souterraine. This classic race is by tradition very tough and it wasn’t any different in 2007. With drizzle in the North of France and Belgium, a cutting northern wind, low temperatures for the time of year and even here and there a touch of rain, there were all the ingredients for a joyful race.
At 10 o’clock the pigeons were liberated from the Limousin region in Creuse. 23.389 feathered athletes could go in search of eternal fame. The general expectation was that the pigeons would probably achieve a velocity of 1200 m/m. This was confirmed by the first reports on the Pipa website. It soon turned out to be a false alarm; and the winning pigeon had a velocity of just over 1186m/m.
By the winner
By Willy Maes in Zwalm the pigeons were expected to be home between 17h00 and 18h00. Willy and his friends were stood at the table next to the loft, with their noses pointing in the direction where the early pigeons were likely to come from. While they were chatting, a pigeon arrived which one-one had seen coming, but definitely didn’t come from the “normal” direction. The landed athlete was a hen with the ring number 4100708/07.
The chequered hen was happy to be home, but in no hurry to go inside. According to insiders she wasted almost two minutes hesitating. It was only a matter of centimetres that gave Willy Maes and his wife the best, but also busiest weekend of their lives!
Reason for hesitancy?
Maes breeds 100 youngsters. The hens and cocks are separated and raced up to and including the classic Bourges at the end of July. On the 1st of August the hens and cocks are put together and everything is left to Mother Nature. In contrast to the majority of her loft mates the hen didn’t take a nest box or a partner.
This didn’t stop the athlete from racing home at breakneck speed. But once home there was no partner, nest box or brood waiting, and this will more than likely clarify why she was so hesitant to go inside.
As mentioned earlier, it concerns a chequered hen. Nicely streamlined, eyes that meet the requirements of the followers of the eye theory and a soft as silk plumage. Who said that tough races are not won by pancakes? It didn’t happen in the race from La Souterraine either!
Through his father’s side we have the strain Charles Page (Zottegem) (Pochet-Deneufbourg), a well-known specialist in this part of East-Flanders. On the mother’s side we have an original Danny Schockaert (Oordegem).
The La Souterraine race was the national winners tenth and probably last race. Last season she achieved seven prizes. Apart from the national victory in the classic from Limousin, she also scored early from Bourges (152nd from 1500 pigeons) and Toury (35th from 357 pigeons). The rest of the prizes are to be found in the middle of the results.
The winner in her favourite place
Willy Maes, 72 years old, is an uncomplicated, almost reticent man. He had to adapt to all the attention he received during his weekend; so many (“strange”) people to talk to; not everybody can manage it. But Willy put his best foot forward in his new role. There was a lot of emotion coupled with the victory. Mrs Maes also enjoyed the success enormously. They are already sharpening their knives again in Zwalm for the race from Guéret. Irrespective of the result from Guéret, the season and the career of Willy Maes has been crowned.