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Pigeon Fever ~ ACE-FOUR-EVER (part 11) by Henk Simonsz…
1996 was an historic year at Ad Schaerlaeckens’ lofts. Not only did his pigeons perform superbly well in every race they were entered, but in 1996 he also ringed two young pigeons out of the couple Blauwe Geeloog x Beauty 1. These youngsters got the, by now world famous, rings NL96-5660144 and NL96-145. The 96-144 turned out to be a hen and was later named ‘Het Supertje’. The NL96-145 was a cock and at the end of his first season he was christened ‘Ace Four’…
Despite the fact that their parents had a perfect pedigree and results list, just like the other birds these two young pigeons were tested in the races for young pigeons, in which they could prove their real value. No paper-fame in Ad Schaerlaeckens’ lofts; the pigeons have to show their potential first.
It only took a few races for the fame of these nest mates to begin spreading. The longer the distance, the better their return time. When they were beaten, it was usually by their own loft mates. In every aspect, they were very special pigeons. Very tame and easy in the loft. They were always looking their best, and what was really special; they often arrived back together from a race. Also on the more difficult 400 kilometers plus races. Something else that was special about them was that they always returned home completely exhausted. They really gave their all. Ad was always holding his breath when he saw them coming. Almost always very early, but also completely exhausted. And the warmer the weather, the better they raced. However, it was remarkable that after only a few hours, you couldn’t notice any tiredness anymore and they were exercising enthusiastically again. A famous descendant of the ‘Ace Four’, the ‘Sprint’ from Bas Verkerk, did precisely the same. He always came back totally empty and a week later he flew in the lead again as if nothing had happened. It is nice of course to see a pigeon coming home from 500 kilometers and fly a few victory laps, but you might wonder if this pigeon has really given his all…
In 1996, there were three provincial races for young pigeons, and to show how tired the ‘Ace Four’ was and how fast he recuperated, we give you the results of a few difficult races in the large competitions that he flew within just 14 days…:
Etampes 12th against 7,572 pigeons
Chantilly 23rd against 9,700 pigeons
Creil 6th against 13,948 pigeons.
His nest sister ‘Het Supertje’ was just as good as he was, and together they won the 1st and 2nd ace pigeon title Provincial in a competition of about 11,000 pigeons. As a yearling, ‘Het Supertje’ tried to better her brother by winning 3x 1st the last four races of the season. By the time both pigeons had finished moulting, they could properly be assessed. And they could be held in the hand to feel that everything was as it should be. Although Ad Schaerlaeckens says he does not pay too much attention as to how a pigeon looks, he can describe these two birds in total detail. Both are very nice, compact pigeons, perfectly closed. And the eyes? With or without breeding value? Who knows?… ‘Het Supertje’ had a bright little head with a regular yellow eye, nothing special really. However, the ‘Ace Four’ had a very special eye. A rich pallet of very dark, warm colours, almost black. Although he says not to attach any value to the eye theory, Ad told me that he never again saw such a special and beautiful eye in that colour scheme and in such richness. One more remarkable attribute of the ‘Ace Four’ was his weight, or better, the lack of it. He almost always looked to be plump and taut, unbelievably strong in the body, but he weighed almost nothing.
The ‘Ace Four’ must have been such a special pigeon. I would give anything to be able to hold the ‘Ace Four’ in my hands. To look him in the eyes, to admire his appearance and character, and to feel his body. Unfortunately, in the year of his birth, I had just given up the pigeon sport for a prolonged period; otherwise I would certainly have seen him at one time. It is also a pity that in those days, photography of the eyes had not yet been developed to a good standard. Photographs of that time almost never show much of the real colours and blood richness, let alone the appearance. What a luxury to be able to breed such a pigeon and to have such pleasure of the bird in racing and in breeding…
Naturally, the ‘Ace Four’ has become the figurehead of the Ad Schaerlaeckens colony up to this very day. There are not many fanciers who have never heard of this champion. But as said before, his little brother, the ‘230’ and his nest sister ‘Het Supertje’ were never far behind in their achievements. Although they never surpassed him, their results can also be called fantastic. And we still continue to see the bloodlines of this select group in many top pigeons.
Rens van der Zijde from Anna Paulowna, in the north of the Netherlands, had his eye on the pigeons from Ad Schaerlaeckens from early on. Already in the early days, he bought a beautiful hen out of the ‘Creilman’. He was very successful with the bird and later he went back to Ad for more pigeons. He was also one of the first fanciers to buy a young from the ‘Sissy’. Out of this youngster he bred his well known ‘Uno’, who became 1st national ace pigeon WHZB in 2000, with among others 1st prizes in the races from Tours and Orleans. Ad Schaerlaeckens of course kept a sharp eye on the results of the descendants from his bloodline, and soon enough he arrived at the loft of Rens van der Zijde to buy back the ‘Uno’. Rens was prepared to sell the pigeon back to him, provided that he could have two young out of ‘Het Supertje’ (96-144), and this deal would prove to have far reaching consequences for Rens. Before the ‘Uno’ went back to Ad, Rens had bred a nice cock out of him with an Ad Schaerlaeckens hen (out of daughter ‘Superstar’). He named this cock (NL01-607) the ‘Inteelt’, and he would become the male half of Rens’ world famous Super Pair ‘Inteelt’ x ‘Evita’.
Both youngsters out of ‘Het Supertje’ from Ad Schaerlaeckens turned out to be hens. Both of them produced good pigeons, but one of the two, the ‘Evita’ (NL-474) excelled in breeding, especially when she was coupled to the ‘Inteelt’ out of Uno x Superstar. Rens van der Zijde says that buying the ‘Evita’ is the best thing that has ever happened to him in the pigeon sport. In the loft she is a very calm and sweet pigeon. In the hand she has that typical build that many pigeons out of this bloodline have; small but perfectly built. In the end, descendants of the ‘Evita’ have so far managed to win more than 60 different first prizes.
Through the Internet, we are inundated with all kinds of wanted and very often unwanted information. But it is very convenient when you want to look something up. ‘In the early days’ you had to get your ‘knowledge’ out of magazines and books. One of the authors of that time, who could write very captivating stories, was the well known Piet de Weerd. He also regularly made interesting remarks that really worked in practice, of which a few have stuck in my memory. One of these was that you could partly determine the quality of the pigeons by how they responded to inbreeding, if they did or didn’t keep their quality. The more they could withstand inbreeding, without losing even a little bit of their basic quality, the higher the quality and breeding value of the pigeons. I have checked this fact in the bloodlines of the ‘Ace Four’, ‘Het Supertje’, the small ‘230’ and their offspring, and I must say that I have made a few interesting observations…
(To be continued)