Munster, Germany – Horst and Frank Sander, and Zafer Kurtulmus from Munster are the happy winners of the Gouden Duif Germany 2014. I have seen the pigeons with which they won the Gouden Duif, and I was impressed.

Seldom did I see such class pigeons. But more about that later.

Horst and Frank Sander have been building a father-son-combination for many years, and the combination couldn’t be more perfect. Father Horst (74) can be proud of his son Frank (46). Since 2013 the combination also consists of Zafer Kurtulmus, who is also very enthusiastic about the pigeon sport. But for the moment we stay with Horst and Frank Sander. Frank has followed in the footsteps of his father, in the transport company and in the pigeon sport. This is probably the secret of their success because they are both pulling in the same direction, in their business and in their sport. These days, Frank is the motor and driving force. Businesswise, he is committed and highly motivated, which is very important, and he possesses a dynamic that is necessary to be successful at top level in the present day pigeon sport.

Since a few years, father Horst has taken more of a back seat in the pigeon sport. It is now Frank alone who sets the goals and determines the strategy in the loft.

I had already visited the Sanders in Munster in 2006 when they had won the Gouden Duif, but of course time hasn’t stood still. During the drive there I wondered what would have changed since my first visit. Did they have new pigeons, new ace pigeons, changes in racing strategy, or other innovations maybe? Naturally, there were little changes and also a few new pigeons, but all in all, everything was about the same as before. The only thing that has grown is their success, which they proved without doubt by winning the Gouden Duif competition.

Still in Munster

They are still living there… at the south-westerly edge of this city with 291,754 inhabitants. In 1947, they founded their transport company there, which means that they will celebrate its 70th anniversary soon. Frank has been managing the firm for many years now. The city of Munster has become famous because of the police series ‘Tatort Munster’, with Axel Prahl as Commissioner Frank Thiel and Jan Josef Liefers as criminal doctor professor Borne. For the interested, this series has the highest viewing ratings.

The pigeon lofts are situated high-up under the roof at the Buldernweg 51 and have an abundance of space and ventilation. Breeding pigeons, communal sections and young pigeons, everything finds a place under this one roof. Who expects a large number of pigeons will be disappointed. For German concepts, the Sanders are very average pigeon fanciers. Because of a change in racing direction from the south-west to the south-east, they sold all their old pigeons in 2013. They only kept 11 yearlings. In 2014, they started anew with a very young team, consisting of 11 second-year pigeons and 40 yearlings, and their strategy paid off! It meant that they had a few more pigeons in 2014 than usual. In the breeding loft they have 20 to 25 breeding pairs and several foster pairs. They started the 2014 season with some 30 widowers and 20 hens. There were also a few extra hens for the best breeding cocks, but that was all. I didn’t take the trouble to count how many pigeons there were in all, but I’m certain that most fanciers in Germany have a widowers’ team with more pigeons than all the pigeons combined in the Sander loft. They keep the numbers of their team deliberately small. The bond with the pigeons must be maintained, and having too many pigeons is just not their thing.


Frank Sander in the widowers' loft. The nest boxes of the old pigeons are still closed...

Frank Sander in the widowers’ loft. The nest boxes of the old pigeons are still closed…

Horst the placid…and Frank the energetic

It is a harmonic combination. As said before, father Horst is now 74 years old and Frank is 46. For a fancier Frank is still a young man, considering the average age in the pigeon sport. Frank officially joined the team in 1986. Father and son have quite different characters. Father Horst is more a tranquil fancier, a fancier who wants to enjoy his pigeons and whose expectations are not that high anymore. While son Frank is the man with ‘power’, a fancier who uncompromisingly strives for success and who is open to innovations in the pigeon sport. Frank sees the pigeon sport as a highly multifaceted hobby, with love for animals as the first condition. His fascination lies in breeding, handling the pigeons, the achievements of the birds and the success that can be reached very quickly. He finds observation of the pigeons essential for the success of a fancier. Through the behaviour of the pigeons, the fancier must be able to determine whether they feel good or if there is something amiss. Observing the birds is important, and that is not possible when there are too many pigeons.

Frank is also race organizer for the region, and we can surely say that father Horst and especially son Frank, are perfectly fulfilling the conditions for a successful pigeon sport.

The lofts

Since my visit eight years ago, there are not many changes in the lofts either. As mentioned before, all the lofts are in the top of the building. There is a lot of space and the compartments have plenty of ventilation. A skylight that can be opened wide ensures extra fresh air when needed.

On the right, they have built a series of new breeding boxes, in which the breeding couples can be placed separately, so that cheating is precluded. Before, they also had breeding boxes on the left side of the loft, but not so many. When I was there, the widowers’ boxes were inhabited by the yearling widowers.

A long time before pairing, Frank takes the old widowers from the lofts and locks them in their nest boxes. He then opens up the free nest boxes and puts the yearling widowers in the loft. This way the yearlings will obtain nest box stability. When the old widowers return to the loft, there will not be too many problems in taking possession of the nest boxes.


Snelheid   3-5   Fulda	           4943 d. : 4, 7, 19
Hafo 	  31-5   Forchheim	   4193 d. : 1, 4, 9
Hafo	   6-9   Marktheidenfeld   1378 d. : 2, 3, 4
Fond	   28-6   Osterhofen	   2770 d. : 5, 7

The breeding basis

The old breeding basis is still there, with as foundation the offspring of the ‘Eurostar’ and the ‘Wonder van Haacht’. These names appear in many pedigrees of the very best pigeons. Nowadays, these cocks do not fertilize anymore, but their blood is still preserved via their sons, daughters and grandchildren. Over the years, they have of course added several different pigeons. We won’t and can’t elaborate on each new addition… but we do want to say a word or two about these new additions: the pigeons from the well known Dutch fancier Willem de Bruijn, who is himself very successful with his pigeons… even with a lot of pigeons. The Sanders have bought 12 pigeons from him. Normally, only a few birds remain from such a large number of pigeons. But that was different with the pigeons from Willem de Bruijn; the Sanders were successful with almost all of his pigeons.

The Sanders have always scored very high in the longer races of the combine and also in races with large numbers of pigeons. In the 2014 season, they won a total of 10 first prizes and many top prizes with the old and young pigeons. Just look at the list with the best races. When one Sanders pigeon returns, the others are not far behind.

But let no one think that the south-easterly direction is an easy flight direction… on the contrary… it is very demanding for the pigeons. Much of the racing conditions are dependent on the racing organizer, but that is just a remark on the side.

Who in Germany can do much better than the Sanders are doing? That top results could never be achieved with second rate fanciers and pigeons speaks for themselves. Therefore, we’d better concern ourselves in more detail with the breeding basis of Horst and Frank Sander.

The fundament of the present basis was laid by father Horst in 1982, with pigeons that he bought from successful German fanciers. But that is a long time ago. Only once in a while, you will come across some of these pigeons in the pedigrees. Later on new pigeons were incorporated. In 1996 and 1998, they acquired several pigeons from Gaby Vandenabeele.

One of the hens that produced the best offspring was the B98/3158374, a daughter of the famous ‘Wittenbuik’ with ‘Zus Prinsesje’. This hen can still be very regularly seen in the pedigrees of the very best breeders.

Real class pigeons were added to the colony with the ‘Eurostar’ (NL98/1126959) and the ‘Star Kid 7000’ (NL98/1127000) from Marian van Koppen. And naturally, the ‘Wonder van Haacht’ should not be forgotten. This cock features in many top descendants. He has simply proven himself as a super breeder. For me, this cock was the perfect breeder, equal to a typical Koopman pigeon of the old sort.


Frank Sander in the widowers' loft. The nest boxes of the old pigeons are still closed...

Frank Sander in the widowers’ loft. The nest boxes of the old pigeons are still closed…


NL01/1135699 or the ‘Wonder van Haacht’

I’ll have to tell you a short story now.

Actually, the Sanders should not call this cock the ‘Wonder van Haacht’ because the bird was not sold in Haacht. In any case, a wonder cock it certainly is. On 16th February 2002, at the auction of the Gouden Duif celebration, a very young, checkered cock from Cornelis and Gerard Koopman was offered. His father was the renowned ‘Kleine Dirk’, his mother ‘Miss Ermerveen’. After some strong bidding, Frank Sander was able to buy the pigeon for 5,500 Euros. But the Sanders didn’t succeed in breeding very easily with their newcomer, and at the end of the season, to their amazement; they hadn’t been able to breed a single young pigeon out of him. The son of the ‘Kleine Dirk’ just didn’t fertilize. In their despair, they explained the problem to Gerard Koopman in the spring of 2003. And Gerard quickly presented a solution. He went to his breeding loft and offered the Sanders as exchange a full brother with ring number NL01/1135699. That is how in 2003, this cock came to stay in the breeding loft in Munster under the name of ‘Wonder van Haacht’. And as so many sons and daughters from the extraordinary breeder ‘Kleine Dirk’, the ‘Wonder van Haacht’ produced magnificent offspring. At present, many of the best racing and breeding pigeons in the Sander lofts, which are by now grandchildren and great grandchildren, possess the blood of this fantastic breeder, because he himself doesn’t fertilize anymore of course. It can be said with certainty, that the ‘Wonder van Haacht’ is one of the most dominant breeders, and that there are too few of his sort. We still find many of his sons, daughters and grandchildren in the pedigrees of the very best racing pigeons of the younger generation.

Extra class!

Real breeding pairs of exceptional class are as rare as white ravens. Father and son Sander did have such a breeding pair with the ‘Wonder van Haacht’ and the 02884-01-1000, which gave them fantastic winners. You know the story of the ‘Wonder van Haacht’. Now his hen the ‘Eurostar 1000’ (02884-01-1000). Also a hen with extra class, originating from a coupling of the ‘Eurostar’ with the B98/3158374, a daughter of the ‘Wittenbuik’ from Gaby Vandenabeele.

The ‘Eurostar 1000’ was the full sister of the excellent ace pigeon the ‘494’ (02884-02-494), who may be counted to the fastest cocks of the loft, with winning a 1, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3rd prize. Even as a fourth-year pigeon, this crack still won 10 prizes.

Out of the ‘Wonder van Haacht’ and the ‘Eurostar 1000’ originate among others the cracks ‘479’ (02884-04-479) and the ‘480’ (02884-04-480). In 2005, the ‘479’ won nine prizes with 824 of the available 900 ace-points. In the 2006 season, he won 13 prizes. The ‘480’ won 11 prizes and 928 points in 2005. He became 4th best year pigeon in the union and 6th ace cock in the region. In the 2006 season, the ‘480’ won 11 prizes. This ‘480’ is the father of a very good breeding hen, the 02884-11-533, the mother of ‘Wonderfull Malie’ (02884-13-530). So many toppers out of an extraordinary breeding pair… the ‘Wonder van Haacht’ and the ‘Eurostar 1000’!

A similar excellent breeding cock as the ‘Wonder van Haacht’ was the ‘Eurostar’, NL98/1126959. He also produced magnificent offspring when coupled to the ‘Dochter Wittenbuik’, B98/3158374. We still find many descendants of this couple in the pedigrees of the most successful pigeons.

Oude duiven :
03.05 Fulda (209 km) 4.943 d. : 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 16, 16, 19, 19, 
      23 enz. (35/51)
17.05 Schweinfurt (286 km) 4.658 d. : 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 11 enz. (35/51)
31.05 Forchheim (349 km) 4.193 d. : 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 15, 17, 
      18 enz. (38/45)
14.06 Wiesentheid (308 km) 3.413 d. : 1, 2, 3, 10, 18, 19, 20, 21 enz. (40/42) !
28.06 Osterhofen (528 km) 2.770 d. : 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 20, 21 enz. (28/41)
06.07 Parsberg (425 km) 720 d. : 1, 5, 6, 12, 13, 14, 18, 22, 25 enz. (29/40)
Jonge duiven 2014 :
16.08 Frankenau (134 km) 1489 d. : 1, 1, 3, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 
      20 enz. (62/74)
23.08 Alsfeld (176 km) 1482 d. : 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 15, 
      17, 17, 19, 20 enz. (64/75)
30.08 Fulda (209 km) 1508 d. : 1, 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 7, 9, 10, 10, 12, 13, 15, 
      16, 18, 19, 20 enz. (64/73)
06.09 Marktheidenfeld (272 km) 1378 d. : 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 15, 
      17, 18 enz. (43/70)
13.09 Wiesentheid (308 km) 901 d. : 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 10, 14, 15, 17 enz. (46/60)


New breeding pigeons

Time doesn’t stand still and especially pigeons don’t have a very long life. When they are some eight years old, most pigeons stop fertilizing or laying. Which means that a fancier can’t afford to be complacent and trust that everything will continue in the same way? In due time, new fresh blood has to be acquired, blood that matches the own stock and which gives the colony a ‘kick’ upwards. When you are at the top level that the Sanders are, this is especially difficult, but they have become resourceful. For that reason, I will mention a few special pigeons here.

There is the ‘Malie’ (B05/6042114), lot 10 out of the total sale from Louis Maes-Stevens from Beerse via magazine De Duif. Frank Sander sees in him a new stock cock. In combination with the 02884-03-861, ‘Dochter Eurostar’, the ‘Malie’ produced among others the ‘Prinz Malie’ (02884-08-273), who won 13 prizes in 2010 and who became 7th best ace cock of Germany. In 2011, he flew 12 prizes. This cock already belongs to the best breeding cocks in the Sander’s loft.

Another pigeon that has already proven itself is the 02884-11-296, a full sister of the 02884-08-273. She is among others the mother of the best yearling hen of the union.

And then of course there are the Willem de Bruijn pigeons that have already shown their worth. To start with there is the ‘Hurricane’ (NL11/1742579), a son of the ‘Olympic Hurricane’ from Willem de Bruijn, who was Olympic cock. He was coupled to the ‘Blue Flame’ (NL07/1821760), a super breeding hen. Next, the ‘Hurricane’ was paired again with a daughter out of the ‘Wonder van Haacht’ with the ‘Eurostar 1000’.

Another exceptional breeding pigeon from Willem de Bruijn is the ‘Schalie Apollo’ (NL11/1742585). He comes out of Willem de Bruijn’s breeding pair ‘Apollo’ (NL01/1892694) with ‘Rosalinde’ (NL08/1543464). This ‘Schalie Apollo’ has already shown to be a super breeder. He was coupled to the ‘Sture Malie’ (02884-08-316), a daughter of the ‘Malie’, with the 02884-03-861 (out of ‘Eurostar’ with the ‘Dochter Wittenbuik’). These pigeons are new additions that have profited the Sanders team enormously.

Despite the relatively small breeding loft, we can confidently say that they have a breeding loft with limitless potential. Pigeon sport at the highest level!

A few fantastic racing pigeons

In 2014, Horst and Frank Sander, and Zafer Kurtulmus have solely raced with yearlings, and their achievements were simply exceptional. No one could compete with their team. They won an incredible amount of lead prizes. Therefore, I want to introduce to you a few of the best pigeons of 2014.

That is among others the 02884-13-581. He won 11 prizes with 4,121 prize-kilometers and 822,65 ace-points. The ‘581’ won the 1st prize from Schweinfurt (289 kilometers) against 4,658 pigeons and a 2nd prize from Forcheim (351 kilometers) against 4,193 pigeons. His father is the ‘Schalie Apollo’ (NL11/1742585) from Willem de Bruijn. His mother is the ‘Sture Malie’ (02884-08-316), a daughter of the ‘Malie’ with the 02884-03-861.

The second best cock in the union was the ‘Blue Hurricane’ (02884-12-498) with 12 prizes and 948,20 ace-points. He comes out of the ‘Hurricane’ from Willem de Bruijn with ‘Wondergirl 154’ (02884-07-154), a daughter of the ‘Wonder van Haacht’ with the ‘Eurostar 1000’.

And then there is another hen. The ‘Favorietje Hurricane’ (02884-13-571), who flew 11 prizes with 889,48 ace-points. She is also a daughter of the ‘Hurricane’ from Willem de Bruijn with ‘Wondergirl 154’.

We could easily make this list with best pigeons even longer, but we will limit us to these three pigeons.

This and that!

I haven’t said anything yet about the care for the pigeons. Which is: everything is done as simply as possible. The pigeons don’t get anything other than Knobi-mix, which is a garlic mixture. The ingredients are 2 onions, 5 garlic bulbs, honey, apple-vinegar and propolis. The preparation is as follows: peel the garlic and onions and blend them to a puree in a food processor. Add 200 ml apple-vinegar, 4 tablespoons honey and 25 ml propolis… mix everything well and keep the mixture in the refrigerator. The pigeons get this Knobi-mix over the feed twice a week. One tablespoon over 1 kilogram of feed. The feed is then dried with brewer’s yeast or with vitamins. The racing pigeons get this mixture on Sunday and Monday when there is a race on Saturday. During the moult in October or November, the mixture goes over the feed daily.


The objective of Horst and Frank Sander is to breed top pigeons and lead racers. It’s not the total amount of won prizes which is important; only the number of lead prizes count. It is not their intention to use almost the entire racing team year after year. It’s no problem if the racing pigeons are a bit older.

I have to confess that I am enthusiastic about the Sander’s pigeons. They are top pigeons with a silky soft plume, a fantastic musculature, a short forearm, beautiful eyes and an extraordinary appearance. What’s more, we have seen breeding pigeons of the highest class. Who is going to beat that combination?

If nothing unexpected happens, Horst and Frank Sander and Zafer Kurtulmus will once more be candidates to be reckoned with for a next Gouden Duif!

Dirk Zoland