A new season ahead
For many years you heard the Belgians talk about the crazy amount of birds that some Dutch race. They referred in particular to the area where v d Merwe, de Bruijn and especially Verkerk race. What they wanted to say was that those guys inevitably race many poor birds but they were too polite to say so openly. But what do we see now? The Belgians follow! To-day the weekly entry of some is amazing. Among them, of course, the fanciers who made ‘pigeons’ their profession.
Why ‘of course?’ Those pros have no choice. With few birds you can forget to be a professional. Their income consists of the sale of pigeons and to lure buyers you need striking results. And you can only have striking results if you race a lot of pigeons. The smart guys here know how to interpret results better, but ‘the smart guys here’ are not the potential buyers that the pros need.
How bad it is that there are more and more what we call mega-lofts? And do they finish the sport as some claim? Opinions differ. ‘Short distance guys’ such as Cools, Heylen, Gebr v d Brande, Maris, Lambrechts (all from the same area) and Kris Mostmans would only be happy with such mob fliers in their club. Because they are not afraid of anyone. At least, as long as sprint races are concerned. More birds in the race would mean they would have a chance to get a national Ace. Now they do not have a chance, because the entry in the clubs in which they race is too little. The name of one such a club is ‘Diamantverbond’. In many races no one enters more than 5 birds. In many races the total entry is only 150 birds or less. Verkerk alone started the new season with 225 birds.
I think there will be more and more of such mob fliers in future and in due course the small lofts will be wiped away. As it looks, those ‘mega lofts’ are the future. It stands to reason that Eastern buyers are partly responsible for this phenomenon.
THE (ALLEGED) BIG SHOTS
It is striking that many ‘big shots’ did not perform well in the first races. But apparently they did not care. For them it's all going to happen later on, because let's face it: To excel today form is far more important than quality.
Previously there were lofts that only contained junk. Today, every fancier has birds that should be able to win a prize. The result is that good shape has become more decisive on racing days. And what is so characteristic for good shape? IT IS TEMPORARY. For both humans and pigeons. No sportsman is in good shape a whole season. With pigeons it is no different. It is the art of a champion to have form when it matters. .
So races with tail winds are not lucky races that any pigeon can win, as many fanciers claim. Also in races with high speed you need good birds and even more good form. I made a not of all those fanciers that clocked their 2 first nominated birds in 5 seconds or less. I gave up. There were too many. Believe me, those ‘sprint guys’ are real artists. Too bad they rarely get the respect and credits that they deserve.
Furthermore, Belgium is the only country in the world where yearlings fly apart. Or where there are two sprint races on the same day. Take alone the province of Antwerp for arguments’ sake. Every Sunday there are FOUR sprint races:
-Quievrain (about 125 km) yearlings.
-Quievrain old birds.
-Noyon (about 225 km) yearlings.
-Noyon old birds.
The inevitable result is four meaningless races with only entry of some handfuls of birds only. Four such sprint races made sense in the old days when there were 150,000 fanciers or more. Why they are not replaced by ONE sprint race only from about 175 kilometres or so? That would result in nice races with a nice entry, less work and less cost. Because fanciers want to win. If only from 30 birds or so.
Yearlings flying apart? It must be said, old birds races are finished sooner early in the season, but gradually this will change and yearlings will be equivalent. Or even better.
Let's go back to those MOB FLIERS. A Belgian told me how pleased he was. He had raced 4 pigeons and had won 7th and 12th at a large participation. "Large participation” meant an entry of 178 pigeons. Another mail was from a Dutchman. It was a hymn and lamentation at the same time of a fellow countryman who had won 67 prizes in one race. He found it 'wow' but also a bit humiliating The man he referred to had 221 pigeons in the race, which was more that the total entry of the club of the Belgian.
I told him to consider the amount of birds that had NOT won a prize: No less than 154!. win a prize. That is what I call 'wow'. If I were the boss (many will be glad that I am not) I would place a list containing in sequence the names of fanciers with their number of pigeons that did NOT win a prize below each race result. A sort of shadow list. Something like:
NUMBER OF PIGEONS THAT WON NO PRIZE:
-And at the bottom: Gerritsen 0.
So the birds that Gerrtitsen had entered in that particular race ALL won a prize. Maybe he had entered 8 pigeons, maybe 3, maybe just one. If the first fancier (Janssen) had entered 200 birds he must have won 52 prizes. Most probably his result was more striking than that of Gerritsen.
Nevertheless the latter was the man of the match that day.