Appearances are deceptive
"Look, that is what I call racing pigeons" I said to my fellow sportsman. And I pointed at a result sheet of a race from Quievrain, 105 kilometres. The "brothers B" had won 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th. They had four birds in the race only.
'That is indeed real good' he said and turned the page. But much to his surprise the other side was blanc. Then he understood. There were only 126 birds in the race and all the prizes were on the front sheet. (42 prizes, since we race 1 per 4). 'Were you serious? Do you really find that a good result?' he asked. 'Of course I do not find it good. I find it SUPER' was my reaction. Look at the number of fanciers that participated. 24 ! He shrugged.
When you live in an area where all fanciers race many birds an entry of 126 is indeed not impressing at all. But having ALL your birds home when your club mates are still waiting for their first? Try this yourself. And in this case it was not a matter of a better location, what you would expect, since all 24 fanciers lived close, within 4 miles.
24 Fanciers who enter 126 birds total means that a select group of pigeons is raced. Good pigeons of course. Their best. The point is that we practise a 'strange sport'.
There are clubs in which no fancier enters less than 25 birds.
In other clubs (in Belgium) it happens that no fancier enters more than 5 birds. And what to think about fanciers that race 150 birds or more, while club mates only race 3 or 5 birds max? Is this a fair sport?
'Brothers B' race in a club where not many birds are entered but competition over there is real tough. How frustrating it must be for fanciers with good birds to race in such a club. Before the season they already know they have no chance to have a national or provincial Ace.
This is because of the little entry of a select group of good birds. The winner in the club of 'brothers B' mostly has a higher speed than the winner in neighbouring clubs in the same race. Thus the following thing may happen:
In the club of brothers B a fancier clocks a bird at exactly 11.00 o'clock. It has a speed of 1.400 mpm and wins 1st against 85 birds.
One minute later his neighbour, who races in another club, clocks a bird. Speed 1.380 mpm He wins 1st against 1.200 birds. So there is a clear difference between a winner and a winner. The first bird in this example is the better bird. The second is the better bird ON PAPER.
This second bird did well to improve its chances to become a (national) Ace. The fancier with the better bird has no chance. Because a winner of 1.200 birds gets a better coefficient than a winner of 85 birds. Much better!
FEW BUT REAL GOOD
How you can see if a club is competitive or not? The speed of the winner is an indication, but even more the speed of the bird that won the last prize!!! And in the club of 'Brothers B' the races always close first. It even happens that the last prize winner has a speed that is higher than that of a winner in other clubs.
Of course I mean of THE SAME RACE!!!
So I advise fanciers who want to become famous to carefully select the clubs in which they want to race. I advise fanciers who want to get good birds to race in clubs were competition is tough. Those are often the clubs where people get 'impossible results' like winning 5 firsts in one year with the same bird. Or winning 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (and so on) against 1000s of birds.
Foreigners are often surprised to see how many birds are raced in some areas in Holland and how few in some areas in Belgium. The reason is that pigeon racing is totally different in both countries. Take the province of Antwerp in Belgium. Every week there is:
A Sprint race from Quievrain yearlings
A Sprint race from Quievrain old birds.
A Sprint race from Noyon yearlings.
A print race from Noyon old birds.
A Middle Distance race yearlings birds.
A middle Distance race old birds.
A Long Distance race yearlings.
A Long Distance race old birds.
Furthermore fanciers have the opportunity to enter birds in different clubs for the same race. They may 'spread' their birds while the Dutch mostly have ONE RACE ONLY in one weekend.
BART AND ME
Both in Holland and in Belgium fanciers have the chance to 'double'. So their birds may race on club level, in the combine, provincial and National. This may result in strange situations. There was this provincial race in which Bart was average. His first bird won 34th prize.
Semi National (zone) he was sensational. His first bird (so the same) won 2nd. Such a thing was possible since the dividing line between the sections (zones)was in his favour. (Sorry, a bit complicated to explain clearly). Foreigners are not aware of the dividing lines between the zones. When they ask me to explain how it is possible that a bird that won 34th prize provincial won 2nd prize National (zone) I have a problem.
In 2000 I had my '191'. We had many races with fair weather that year and '191' was unbeatable. In all 5 races that counted for National Ace it won 1st prize against average 600 birds. And a bird can do no better than win. '191' became 2nd best pigeon of Holland. The 1st National Ace was a bird that belonged to a fancier that did not live far from me. We race in the same province and my bird beat his every race. How his bird could have a better coefficient then?
Both our birds were also raced in the combine. His was big, mine was small. And a 3rd prize against 5.000 pigeons results in a better coefficient than a 1st prize against 600 pigeons. It is the same story as that of the club of 'Brothers B'.
Then there is that 'super' from a fancier in the North of Holland. It has a Belgian ring and was bred by F Marien. It won several firsts against 1000s of birds. Mr Marien himself does not have birds with such results. How come? He races in a much stronger competition. It is also the of fanciers in 'new pigeon countries' in Eastern Europe. Birds that they bought in Holland or Belgium win fairy tale results over there. Impossible to get such results in Holland or Belgium.
It is a shame that many fanciers cannot read results properly. 6 Birds in a race that won 6 prizes is less impressive than the result of a fancier who won 50 prizes from the 130 birds he entered.
Too bad that even some reporters or media are fooled by the result at first sight. That is the reason why 'mob flyers' like the latter often get all the attention while the men that did real well are often ignored. Take April 18th 2015. I entered 22 birds and 20 of them won a prize.
The talk of the day however was Mr so and so.
In 3 minutes he had clocked 24 birds.
In 3 minutes I had clocked 8 birds.
'So and so' had 157 birds in the race, I only 22. Of course I seldom win 20 prizes from 22 birds. This race I did, but the show was made by the fancier that won no less than 74 prizes. As if it were not relevant that he had entered more than 150 birds.