The best birds ever?
Best birds in history
fanciers from the Far East and the Far West sometimes ask me which, in my opinion, were the best birds ever.
It should be 'in my opinion' indeed, since it is personal and hard to be objective.
Furthermore I must restrict myself since it is quite possible that in America, Ireland or wherever there is or was a pigeon that is or was just as good as the best birds fromHolland or Belgium. I want to give it a try though.
As for the great long distance I do not need to think long, the best
is a cock from 1998 called 'Ben' (98-361048) raced by Ben Robert from France.
His performances in 2 day races were incredible but what makes this bird even more special is that in some races its location was far from good.
Ben Robert lives west and when the wind is west as well it is not possible to win a top prize.
But 'Ben' won top prizes even when the wind was against him. What makes this bird also special is the fact that it performed in all circumstances.
Rain, hot, tailwinds, headwinds, to 'Ben' it hardly made any difference.
Its main performances:
Barcelona National (France) 1,590 p ' 3rd
Barcelona National 1,835 p ' 2nd. International 20,204 p ' 20th.
Perpignan National 1,514 p ' 3rd. International 16,800 p ' 3rd .
Barcelona National 1st. International 24,914 p ' 5th
Perpignan National 5th International 20th
'Ben' is a French bird indeed but its ancestors are all of Dutch origin.
One of the best Middle Distance birds ever, if not the best, was in my opinion 'Olieman' from Jos van der Veken who lives nearby Turnhout.
'Olieman' was born in the same year as '019' from Janssen brothers who lived only 6 kilometres from Van der Veken but raced in another Combine (Arendonk).
The whole world knows '019' was a multiple first prize-winner, but what very few know is that 'Olieman' was better.
On many Sundays both 'Olieman' and '019' won 1st prize from the same race (Noyon) but 'Olieman's speed was always higher than that of '019'.
So if both birds would have been entered in the same competition (combine) Janssens' '019' would have won many' 2nd prizes.
Few people know about this since van der Veken hated propaganda while the Janssens were not only good fanciers but also good businessmen, especially Louis.
Van der Veken will never forget that race from Noyon (about 230 kms) in nice weather.
'Olieman' won with a lead of no less than 10 minutes.
It was a normal race that would have lasted 10 minutes only if 'Olieman' had not participated.
Since 'Olieman' was 10 minutes ahead, the race lasted 20 minutes!!
(When one third of the birds is home the race is finished).
That race was unforgettable for another reason.
The bird had nearly flown itself to death to get home. It sat shivering in its nest box for minutes and Jos feared it would fall dead right away.
In total 'Olieman' won 15 firsts.
It descended from Gust van Hove, a great local champion in those days.
A legendary bird was also 'Fieneke', a hen from Vervoort who passed away in November 2002.
Sometimes it happens that a fancier is the favourite to win a National but it never happened that a pigeon was.
Apart from 'Fieneke'.
In the papers it said before National Bourges 'who can beat Fieneke?'
She did not win but w's 2nd from 38,152 pigeons!
Main record of 'Fieneke': :
- Semi National Vierzon 13,700 p ' 1st
- Semi National Argenton 3,359 p ' 6th
- Orleans 10,194 p ' 1st
- Bourges 7,765 p ' 1st National 38,152 p ' 2nd.
- Toury 410 p ' 1st
Special about this bird is that it only saw daylight 2 hours per 24, when she was training.
The rest of the day, and night of course, it was kept in an aviary that was made dark.
After Mr Vervoort suddenly passed away 'Fieneke' was auctioned.
A Japanese paid 90,000 euro for 'Fieneke'. Never before so much money was paid for a Middle Distance bird, while it was a poor breeder.
In the loft of Vervoort there was not one good child of 'Fieneke' though it must be said a granddaughter 'Aske' was an Olympiad bird.
Later on it turned out that amongst its descendants in the 3rd and 4th generation there were some real good birds.
She was a descendant of 'Olieman' from van der Veken, mentioned before.
Jos van der Veken, handling Olieman
'PAULA 5000' REMI DEMEY
Another special bird was 'Paula 5000' (B-84-6453406) from the late Remi de Mey.
I handled that white miracle hen many times.
Though that was some 1000s of articles ago I will never forget how ugly she was.
She was entered in 71 races and won 56 prizes, among them 13 firsts.
She represented Belgium in 2 Olympiads which means that she raced super for 4 years.
Today more and more fanciers start racing hens but in the 80-ies good hens were exceptions and Paula was an exception.
As I said she was an Olympiad bird twice and in those days racers at Olympiads were graded.
At the Olympiad in Dortmund the 'connoisseurs' gave her the least points of all birds that were there.
Imagine that, the best pigeon of the world was considered to only have poor physical qualities and understandably the pigeon magazines had stuff to write about.
Today most hens are finished when they are 2 years old but 'Paula' became better the older she got.
Paula 5000 from Remi de Mey
'SPRINT' FROM ALBERT MARCELIS
A bird that also caused a lot of commotion was 'Sprint' (B-97-6549507) from the late Albert Marcelis.
In my opinion all birds develop the same speed on their way home, the winning birds are those that take the straightest way home.
That would mean pigeon races are no speed races but navigating races.
But it seems there are some exceptions and 'Sprint' was one of them and could really fly faster than others.
Just like 'Olieman'.
From training tosses Albert often noticed that the rest just could not follow him.
Sprint was 5th National Ace pigeon in 2000 and 3rd National Ace pigeon in 2002.
It was also 1st Olympiad bird.
So as a 5 year old it was still on top.
I will never forget what Serge van Elsacker once told me on a hot Saturday in 2000.
The weather forecast for the day that followed was good and for him it was clear which bird would win the race.
That would be 'Sprint' for sure. He only wondered how great its lead would be.
Well, that was no less than 5 minutes from a distance of 125 kilometres only!
In total it won 22 firsts, all from short distance!
Later on Eric Berckmoes became owner of 'Sprint' and a granddaughter ('Babette') became 1st Olympiad LONG DISTANCE in Oostende.
From my youth I remember a pigeon simply called '05' from Vermeulen from Chaam.
The bird was so sensational that people said it failed when it won a third prize.
'05' was unbeatable in hard weather but won also first with strong tailwinds and a speed of 100 kilometres per hour.
Unlike most other supers that I referred to '05' was also an exceptional breeder.
In those days many fanciers became champions after they had bought children or grandchildren of '05'.
Vermeulen himself spent lots of money on birds.
One year when he had all the birds that he had bought mated he found 2 were left.
Those were 2 birds that had not cost him one penny; a cock that he had got from a friend and a hen that his brother in law had given him.
They became the parents of '05'.
In those days Mr Verheyen had a grandchild of '05' that had won 2 firsts on a row in the Federation, the week that followed it won 1st National Orleans from 60,000 birds.
That was back in 1973 and the bird was one of the first to be sold to Japan.
Another real special bird was also the 'Nationaal' from Schellens.
Since there is an interesting story connected with it as well I will write about 'Nationaal' in another article.
SUPERS OF TODAY
Naturally there are also exceptional racers today with an impressing record, but it is hard to judge them since the strength of the competition differs so much.
I am convinced that some birds that are world famous now, no one would have heard of if they were raced in another area.
The birds that I referred to performed well in the strongest competition.