*With grateful thanks to Henk Simonsz www.pigeonfever.nl
*Top fanciers from Reeuwijk: Bas and Gerard Verkerk. The ‘Bubbles’ had an enormous impact on the development of their colony. Bas is holding the ‘Olivia’, daughter of ‘Bubbles’ and winner of 1st NPO Tours. Her nest mate is father of the yearling phenomenon ‘Tinkerbell’. Father Verkerk is holding the beautifully built son of ‘Bubbles’, the ‘Bulldozer’ in his hands.
In the pigeon sport too many popular theories and preconceptions are regularly overturned in practice. It seems as if many fanciers like to hang on to a certain theory and act upon it accordingly, and not only in word but also in practice.
There is only one real truth in the pigeon sport and that is the proven value of a top pigeon, everything else can be regarded as nonsense. These theories are often nice work with, but not to build something of value with.
One of these preconceptions is that inbred pigeons are only good for breeding and not for racing. That inbreeding is dangerous to keep your colony intact, and so on. That you have to be on your guard when your pigeons get smaller?? On guard for what, however, is never explained… That muscles need to quiver and swell… which is a bonus when they do, but I have seen a large number of good pigeons with muscles that you could hardly feel, and which were often pigeons that could fly for 12 hours without any problem in very hot weather and with a head wind, when all of those macho pigeons with their swollen, quivering muscles had already dropped from the sky because their stamina was completely depleted…
Ad Schaerlaeckens has already reduced many pigeon sport items that were thought of as difficult, downt to their proper proportions, whereby the disillusionment came from the simplicity of his solutions. Ad almost always sticks to the facts and he has therefore developed into a no-nonsense pigeon specialist, who is also capable of modifying many exaggerated issues with his pen. In a lot of cases the only thing that remains is ‘pie in the sky’. I believe that this is one of the reasons that he has become such a popular writer worldwide.
His method for coupling is a good example of this. Very extensively thought through and tested, but so simple and rational, that only a few other fanciers can relate to it. He uses free pairing and every cock can choose his own favourite hen. And when a couple of pigeons get together but which should not be allowed according to the experts? Ad does not worry about it. He just wants the pigeons of a couple to feel comfortable with each other. A distinct danger with this method of course is very close inbreeding. However, Ad doesn’t lose any sleep over this either. Not even when it happens with his best breeders. In 1998, his ‘Ace Four’ was very much attracted to a small hen out of the couple Mattens x Sissy.
Despite the fact that this hen was a full sister of the father of ‘Ace Four’, Ad just let them pair and this couple produced among others the 98-162, who later got the name ‘Home Alone’.
The ‘Home Alone’ was one of the exponents that would propagate the blood lines of the ‘Ace Four’ even further worldwide. Not only was he superb in the races, the quality of his offspring is fantastic until today. Straight away, he stood out in the loft as a racer. He had a nice build and according to Ad Schaerlaeckens, sparks were flying out of his eyes… In large competitions against thousands of pigeons, he flew quite a few top-10 listings. His most notable achievement was in a very hot and difficult race from Creil against 13,203 pigeons, in which he flew no less than 7 minutes in the lead alone. Pigeons who can do a thing like that are the real superstars in the pigeon sport, quite unbelievable.
But it didn’t end with the ‘Home Alone’. Ever more super pigeons/breeders were born in Baarle-Nassau. And also more and more, current, top lofts were in those days laying the foundation for the future with pigeons out of these blood lines.
One of these fanciers was the then still very young Bas Verkerk who went to the lofts of Ad Schaerlaeckens to buy pigeons there for the first time in 2000, together with his father Gerard. They returned home with three pigeons, and one of these flew out of the loft directly as squeaker. The two that remained were the ‘Ice Queen’ and the ‘Alessandro’. Almost nobody has heard of the ‘Ice Queen’ because she only brought two young into the world. The day after she laid her first eggs, she escaped from the aviary. This didn’t seem a problem as such because she had already been flying outside the aviary, but it was dusk when she escaped and it snowed hard in the night, hence her name ‘Ice Queen’… but Bas and Gerard have never seen her again… However, out of one of the remaining eggs came the ‘Olympic Sogno’, who as yearling managed to win the title Olympiad pigeon middle-distance…
The ‘Alessandro’ became much more known. He came out of a full sister of the ‘Home Alone’ (‘Beauty 2) who could perform so excellent in very hot weather. The ‘Alessandro’ became among others father of a fantastic son, the ‘Sprint’ (01-591). He earned this name when he was still a young bird. It was tropically hot and with a north-easterly wind, he became 1st in the competition against 6,069 pigeons. He repeated this feat as a yearling in an also very hot middle-distance race (1st against 3,560 pigeons). As a two-year old pigeon, he first won a 5th NPO against 9,399 pigeons from Bourges and, two weeks later, he again squashed the competition by winning 1st NPO in a very hard race from Chateauroux against 6,664 pigeons. In the ‘Sprint’ you could see the same traits as in the ‘Ace Four’ and his sister ‘Het Supertje’. Always returning totally exhausted from a race, and a few hours later you wouldn’t notice a thing about them any more, and especially excelling with a head wind and in tropical temperatures. If you can breed such pigeons, and you have the discipline never to sell one of your toppers, then the overall quality of the Verkerk colony makes sense very quickly. And if you add to that the natural talent that Bas Verkerk has, then you have a winning combination. That’s how simple the pigeon sport can be… In the summer of 2002, Bas and Gerard again went to Ad Schaerlaeckens, this time returning home with an egg out of a couple that had, on the mother’s side, been heavily inbred to the bloodlines of Mattens-Sissy-Beauty 1. They named the young hen that came out of this egg the ‘Bubbles’.
It appeared that they had once again purchased a super breeder in Baarle-Nassau. This hen has had an enormous impact on the Verkerk colony. The ‘Bubbles’ bloodline had a dominant gene in it that enabled the birds to fly in the lead against huge numbers of birds. Until the present day, super cracks are coming out of children and grandchildren of the ‘Bubbles’, and in many other lofts these descendants perform extremely well too.
These are all very nice superlatives, but each and every one is substantiated with super achievements. In the hand too the descendants of ‘Bubbles’ are often real gems, like for instance the blue top cock ‘Bulldozer’ and his super sister ‘Nadala’. But the most noticeable in her offspring are the bright, clever heads of these pigeons. They notice literally everything that is going on in the loft. In the lofts of the family Verkerk the ‘Bubbles’ became among others mother of the ‘Bulldozer’, ‘Nadala’, ‘One Chance’, ‘Donald’, ‘Shine’, ‘Federer’, ‘GPS’, ‘Touriya’, ‘Jack’, ‘Olivia’ and ‘Captain Hook’.
Sticking with the last two mentioned pigeons, the ‘Olivia’ won among others a 1st NPO in the race from Tours against 14,156 pigeons, while her nest mate ‘Captain Hook’ is the father of ‘Tinkerbell’ (13-479), who is the sensation of 2014 in the lofts of Bas and Gerard Verkerk. She is a worthy representative of the ‘Bubbles’ bloodline.
Here are three of her best performances as a yearling in one (!) season:
Meaux: 1st of 17,204 pigeons and also fastest of 32,917 birds.
Bourges: 8th against 9,576 pigeons and
Nanteuil: 9th against 7,043 pigeons.
It makes you wonder if there are lofts that have better pigeons…
(To be continued)