For a better understanding
"My birds performed real well", a Belgian mailed to a Chinese.
"I won 4th and 9th against no less than 308 birds and I won 4 prizes total".
The same Chinese got another mail from a Dutchman.
"Poor result" he said. "I only won 72 prizes, but fortunately my first pigeon was very early and won the 205th prize."
The Chinese frowned.
But prize 205 was an early prize indeed since no less than 42,000 birds participated, which meant it won 1 per 200!
So the Belgian was happy with 4 prizes, the Dutch was NOT with 72.
How such things can happen?
The first had only entered 4 birds, which all won a prize, while the Dutch had entered 192 birds, of which no less than 120 failed.
What I want to say is that pigeon sport in Holland and Belgium differs enormously and many foreigners are not aware of this.
In many parts of Belgium they talk about 'a great entry' when there are say 400 birds in a race while in certain parts of Holland an entry of 30,000 is normal.
I will try to explain and since I live right on the border and race both in Belgium and in Holland I should know a bit what I am talking about.
Normally Belgians can race both on Saturday and on Sunday.
When races on Saturday are cancelled they all take place on Sunday.
That means for the province of Antwerp races from:
- Quievrain (app. 125 kms) old birds.
- Quievrain yearlings.
- Quievrain young birds.
- Noyon (app. 230 kms) old birds
- Noyon yearlings.
- Noyon youngsters.
- Melun (about 330 kms) old birds.
- Melun yearlings.
- Melun youngsters.
- Chateauroux (app. 530 kms) old birds.
- Chateauroux yearlings.
- Montelimar (app. 700 kms) old birds.
- Montelimar yearlings.
So 13 races total, not in a year but' on ONE day!!!
Consequently fanciers have 13 chances to win a 1st prize on one day or even more, since they may enter birds from the same race in different competitions.
Until 2 years ago it was even crazier.
Then there were separate competitions for hens and for '2 year olds' to protect them from old cocks which were supposed to be superior.
Due to the outstanding results of hens in recent years (they often beat the cocks) there are no 'doubles' for the 'weaker sex' any more since 2005.
HOLLAND AND GERMANY
The Dutch and Germans normally have ONE race in a weekend.
When the old bird season is finished the young bird races start.
There is no distinction between hens and yearlings; for them a yearling is an old bird.
Furthermore Belgians can enter birds that are not in competition, just for training, while in Holland all birds that are basketed are in the race, including the birds of long distance guys that they do not clock.
Now you may understand the enormous differences as for the entry.
Another distinction is that Belgians race for money while the Dutch focus on championships.
So in Belgium many fanciers together race few birds while in Holland few fanciers race many birds.
That's why it is hardly possible to win 1, 2 and 3 in many Belgian combines, not even from 200 birds, while in Holland it happens that one fancier wins 1, 2 and 3 against thousands of birds when the wind is in his favour.
So what is very important?
When judging results also the amount of fanciers that participate should be taken into consideration, so that 'sellers' can't abuse the ignorance of foreign buyers.
Take that American that races in Holland.
He published that he won from Orleans 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10.
What he did not mention was that it was a race with 105 birds of which 75 were his(!) and only 2 other fanciers participated.
What he did not mention either was that in other clubs many birds had arrived home home before he got his first. Still he did not lie!
When Belgians see how much money foreigners pay for Dutch pigeons whose parents or grandparents were bred by them you can imagine how they feel.
But the Belgians themselves are to blame.
Why organise so many races every weekend?
Why have 2 sprint races every Sunday with old birds and yearlings separated?
Why not have one sprint race for ALL birds?
The reason is people want to win even though it is from 40 birds only.
Some Belgians are different though and also race many birds, mostly with one reason only: To hit the media so that they can sell.
Take that race from Gueret in 2007 for arguments' sake.
I myself had entered 2 birds in Belgium, one won the 2nd prize in a big Federation.
When it got home (I race at the greatest distance) many famous names that had entered 60 or more birds had none home yet.
Later the papers mentioned the 'excellent performances' of those guys that won 10 to 20 prizes, which looked impressive but actually were no good at all.
When I had my bird home (50%) people with 60 birds in the race should have gotten 30, but the reality was they had none.
A race result with 476 birds, entered by 139 fanciers is kind of normal in Belgium.
And even though it is a race with few birds it happens that the first 20 prizes were won by 20 different fanciers.
It also happens that in Holland 698 birds are basketed by, don't be surprised, 5 fanciers only.
476 birds entered by 139 fanciers or 698 birds entered by 5 fanciers makes a big difference.
Especially in young bird racing very few fanciers in Holland enter less than 20 birds while in many combines in Belgium it is normal that no one enters more than 5.
Now it looks like competition in Belgium is stronger, but how come then that some Belgians perform so well with Dutch birds?
I myself started racing in Belgium with youngsters (Dutch birds)in 2006, I won the 1stOver All championship in a big Federation in which fanciers of more than 30 clubs can race, in 2007 those birds were yearlings which again won the over all championship in the same Federation.
But this article was not meant to compare quality but to compare results and wash scales from eyes.
One should realise that a race with an entry of say 1,000 birds means nothing as long as one does not know by how many fanciers 1hose 1,000 birds were entered.
Of course at first sight a 5th prize against say 4,000 birds looks much better than a 5th prize against 400 birds.
The first 5th prize also has a higher business value.
But' if those 4,000 birds were entered by 50 fanciers and those 400 birds by 150 I myself prefer the 5th prize from 400 birds.