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Barcelona: The race (Part two of three)

It was not until 1959 that the Dutch got an interest in the Barcelona race as only then the organisers (Cureghem Centre) allowed them to participate.
The condition was that the birds should be delivered in ‘a normal car’ at Brussels. The Dutch themselves had to take care of everything.
They gladly accepted this and driving to Brussels in ‘a normal car’ was not much of a problem as only 489 birds were entered.
The first National winner in Holland was bar keeper Beckers. His position International was 18th.
For a full week the local fanciers have been celebrating that victory in his café.
‘LOCAL’ fanciers are something one should not underestimate as numerous people in Belgium and Holland raced pigeons then so one can imagine much beer flooded.
The International winner in 1959 was the famous Marcel Desmet from Waregem. His checked widowhood cock, a pure Stichelbout, beat 4,184 competitors.
In the year after (1960) the winner was again a great name: Monin who lived close to the French border. His widowhood cock beat 4,441 birds some weeks after his loft mate had won National Marseille!
Barcelona in Holland (1,029 birds) was won by Naus. His ‘Luie’ (The lazy one’) was a pure Delbar. Over 1,000 birds in the race showed the upcoming interest for Barcelona in Holland.

What insiders thought impossible happened in 1961. A Dutchman, Krauth, won INTERNATIONAL (3,578 birds).
This was considered so sensational because of the greater distance the Dutch birds had to cover.
Nowadays a ‘Dutch victory’ is not a surprise any more. Of late Dutch birds are so dominating that they are already the favourites before the release.
And talking about ‘sensational’ what happened in 1962 and 1963 was REAL sensational.

For the first time in history and so far the only time the same bird won the International race 2 years running.

It was a mealy cock from beer brewer Demaret from Belgium that beat 3,300 birds in 1962 and 3,599 birds the year after.
The pigeon world was stunned. ‘The Barcelona Miracle’ was of the old Bricoux strain.
‘This white raven among pigeons was purchased by D.D.D., which was a Belgian breeding station at the time, as far as I know the first one.
But in those days there was another flying miracle; a hen called ‘De Blinde’ (‘The blind one’) from Mr Dusee from Tilburg.
‘De Blinde’ managed to won both National Sint Vincent and National Dax in one year time, she won a car in both races which is unique as well.
D.D.D. also bought this hen and it stands to reason it was mated to the Demaret bird.
A ‘Wonder pair’ was formed but believe it or not, it did not even produce one good baby !!!
But as for Barcelona the pigeon press had more stuff to write about in those years.
One sensation followed the other.
Records were broken again and again.
Take the famous partnership Deraedt van Grembergen (Gent) who won Barcelona International in 1964 against 3,845 birds and, surprise (!) the same bird had won 2nd prize International the year before.

So if it was not for the Miracle bird of Demaret it was this bird that would have won 2 first prizes International as the only one in history.

Now it ‘only’ won 2nd and 1st prize International in 2 years’ time.
Why do such birds not exist any more? One might wonder.
Most probably because of stronger competition and bigger entry I guess.
But if you consider how much money is paid for a Barcelona winner nowadays one can only guess how much would be paid if now a bird would win 1st and 2nd International in two years time. Winning Barcelona is on thing, being on top two times running is little less than miraculous.

1964 Was a remarkable year for more reasons. Not only did the bird of Deraedt van Grembergen have bad luck for not winning Barcelona two times in Holland the race was won by Sjef van Wanroy; THE Van Wanroy whose name was as famous as those of Catrijsse, Delbar and so on.
In 1965 again a Dutchman, Mr van Bommel, won International (4,036 birds) and then came the year of ‘bull fighter’ Andre Vanbruane from Lauwe.
In 1966 he beat 4,343 birds (International) and this victory was to be followed by an impressing career.
In 1968 the Germans won Barcelona for the second time (Mr Ross, 5,348 birds), two years later Desmet Lippens from Belgium won and then came 1971.

1971 AND 1973.
Barcelona 1971 is often described as the hardest in history because of the immense heat and head winds. Nobody thought it possible that an early bird could be clocked in Holland in this weather.
But Dutch Mr Huls did not only clock an early bird, he even was International winner (7,384 birds). It was the 3rd victory International for the Dutch.
Pollmann bought this small cock for 10,000 guilders, which is about 4,500 USD.
But then the Japanese had not showed up yet to buy such birds.
I guess the first importer was Mr Otha, the first European exporters were the Japanese Asakura who lived in Belgium and the late Mr Jules Gallez but I am not quite sure about this.
The early 70-ies were the years of Belgian Jef Carlens.
He was the man of pure nature, never cleaned his lofts, he never visited a vet and he strongly believed in immunity and birds with strong natural resistance against all kinds of diseases.
His ideas seemed to be out dated but the winner is always right and Carlens WAS a winner; even more he destroyed one long distance race after the other.
In 1973 he put the pearl on his crown and won International Barcelona.
I had the honour to handle this blue hen in the loft of the Japanese banker Shimamura. It was one of those first winners ever to be sold to Japan. The National race in Holland in the same year (1,001 birds) was also won by a great name: Mr v d Wegen himself, the one and only.

1974 to 1979
In1974 the entry was higher than the magic number of 10,000 for the first time.
It was also the fastest race in history so far. At daybreak the first birds arrived and German Sutor racing one of the greatest distances was the winner of 10,273 birds.
In 1976 Belgian Roger Florizoone beat 11,016 birds, again a record entry.
Kuypers Bros, two simple labourers, won the National race in Holland and their victory was to be the start of an impressing long distance career as well.
Numerous fanciers in Holland but even more in Belgium would be successful at long distance with the Kuypers bloodline later on, especially Belgian van der Poel and his Egyptian partner Buckly.
In 1977 for the first time a Luxembourg fancier won, Cristen, unknown before and never heard about later who beat 10,502 birds.
In Holland a pigeon called ‘Sterke’ (‘The strong one’) from Mr P v d Slik beat 1,988 birds. Pollmann also bought this bird for his breeding station, he claims it was the best breeder he ever bought and indeed, in the blood of many winners at long distance was the bloodline of ‘Sterke’.
This Mr v d Slik had enormously strong birds in those days. I still remember National Sint Vincent in Holland in 1981, most probably the toughest ever.
The race was a massacre. The losses were enormous. To the surprise of a whole Nation the same Mr v d Slik however clocked a series of very early birds.
I bought his winning team for a Japanese. The descendants made him famous in the land of the rising son and poor Mr v d Slik was finished.
78-Year-old Grijspeerdt (Belgium) won ‘The Race’ in 1978, his winning bird was bought by Vanhee.
In Holland Mr Oostenrijk won the 1st National (2,058 birds). Not much later he passed away and later on also his name was found in the pedigrees of many superior birds at long distance.
The entry in 1979 (12,201 birds) was another record and now it became clear that Barcelona was set. The race had won the hearts of long distance fans.
A bird named ‘Argenta’ from Belgian Gijselinck beat the whole bunch, the Dutch National was won by Good Old Dusarduyn. It was his 13th National triumph, a record in Dutch pigeon sport that most probably will never be broken.
Dusarduyn was a special man, very famous in Holland and Belgium but not abroad. The reason was he refused to write pedigrees when people wanted his birds.
‘On a pedigree you can write what you want and I wonder what people like, a good pedigree or a good bird’ he used to say.
For the Dutch and Belgians this was fine. As he did not write pedigrees the Japanese and Taiwanese did not want his birds, which kept prices low for Europeans who do not care that much for a pedigree as foreigners do.

13,666 Birds were entered in 1980 (again a record) the winner was Mr Jo Hendriks a retired banker. His victory was a big surprise as he lived in the North of Holland, the race was hard and it was thought impossible that in such weather a bird that raced one of the greatest distances could win.
Also this victory is often described as ‘the most impressing in history’ but ‘victories that are the most impressing in history’ there are many.
People like superlatives and so do press men.
Hendriks winning bird had Van Wanroy blood in his veins. As mentioned before Van Wanroy is one of those old names that put a stamp on pigeon sport. In the 60-ies even famous Vanhee was so much impressed by his results that he drove all the way to Holland to buy Van Wanroy birds which he has never regretted.
Van Wanroy was a close friend of Aarden with whom he traded birds.
The year after, 1981, was the real breakthrough for the Dutch long distance birds as a Dutchman, Cor Willigers, won the International race for the second time running.
His small hen beat 12,202 birds.
Final part follow