*Johnny and Herman of the highly successful combination Jespers-Vanderwegen.
We started this series with the best pigeon of Belgium in 2013, the ‘Den Ad’ from Marcel Wouters. The mother of the ‘Den Ad’ was after all a fusion of the bloodline of Home Alone x daughter Ace Four. And that, coupled with the ‘Leeuw’ from Marcel Wouters, provided plenty of national fireworks.
During the period of writing this series and gathering background information, we came across so many success stories of the ‘Ace Four’ and his family that it became almost impossible to process it all. I still have many folders filled with information that I have gathered for this series. In order to keep it practical, we have limited ourselves to describing a number of pigeons who, for us at least, had the best stories about them and who are still in the spotlight with very recent successes. The amount of information gave us simply no other choice.
But besides the best cock of the Netherlands (Verbree), the best hen of the Netherlands (Verbree), a phenomenal lead flyer from Andre Roodhooft by way of Verbree, the 1st prize winners from and by way of Falco Ebben, the national toppers from the ex one-day long-distance champion of the Netherlands, Knaven, the recent rise of Wulf van Laar, national winners with Rubens, Vanlint and Van Oeckel, two National Ace pigeons from B. Pieper, ‘De Sprint’ and other toppers with Verkerk (NPO winner), ‘Favorietje’ from P vd Merwe, and even the ‘Bolt’, the pigeon that cost 310,000 euro from Leo Heremans and so on, and so on, who all have a link with the pigeons from Ad Schaerlaeckens, I’d still like to finish in the country in which we started, namely in the little town of Holsbeek in Belgium. Holsbeek, is where the combination Jespers-Vanderwegen is based and in 2014 they managed to place the National crown on their many years of top performances.
I myself totally agree with the theory that the more top quality lead flyers you can include in your pedigree, the higher the chance is that you will breed toppers out of them. When you dissect the lineage of the performance pigeons of Jespers-Vanderwegen, it is truly amazing how they have succeeded in respect to the above mentioned theory. Their success comes primarily from three, whether or not combined with each other, bloodlines. First there is the ‘Bourges’ line of Dirk Van Dyck who, incidentally, is a full brother of his ‘Kannibaal’. Next there is the ‘Fleur’ line, who they bought from Ad Schaerlaeckens out of the coupling son Ace Four x daughter Home Alone. And lastly, the line of the ‘Bliksem’ and his son ‘Rudy’ from Vandenabeele. I was very much impressed with the accuracy with which they managed to combine a few of the best bloodlines in the world, and of which they are now reaping the rewards. I take my hat off to them!
In 2005 Johnny telephoned Ad Schaerlaeckens in Baarle Nassau on the off-chance that he could buy a few eggs or young pigeons from him. It appeared to be the right moment, because he was invited to visit Ad and choose a few eggs from the racing pigeons that he had in his loft. At that time, Ad’s racing loft was filled to overflowing with top quality pigeons, mostly the children of the ‘Ace Four’, his sister ‘Het Supertje’, the ‘230’, ‘Home Alone’, his sister ‘Beauty 2’ and of course, not to be forgotten, the ‘Invincible’. Johnny went back to Holsbeek with a few eggs out of children from these super pigeons. One of these eggs hatched a small, spirited hen that would get the name ‘Fleur’. Her father came out of the ‘Ace Four’, her mother was a daughter of ‘Home Alone’. This was closely inbred because the ‘Home Alone’ himself also came out of the ‘Ace Four’, but nobody was worried about this. These bloodlines could withstand inbreeding very well; in fact, they appeared to get even better because of it, especially with breeding. ‘Fleur’ would prove this in an unparalleled way. As almost always with brilliant couplings, the ‘Fleur’ had a chance encounter with the ‘Kleine Dirk’. This ‘Kleine Dirk’ was a son from the ‘Zoon Bourges’ (not the ‘Kleine Dirk’ from Koopman, although they had the same bloodlines). In 2006, they already produced two special pigeons, one of which was the 500 hen, who would develop into a super breeder, and who is also a full sister of other cracks out of this coupling, like the ‘F16’, the ‘Nathalie’, ‘Belle Fleur’, the Petit Fleur’ and many more.
In 2007 the parade of the absolute top pigeons in the largest national young pigeon competitions of Belgium began. In these races, large numbers very well trained pigeons come to the start, and all respected lofts want to show their quality. To have one of your pigeons winning a lead pigeon in these races, you must not only have real top form in the loft, but also real super pigeons, otherwise you have no chance at all. Anyway, the hen ‘Nathalie’ out of the couple Kleine Dirk x Fleur was the first to be entered in the national Bourges against no less than 31,824 (!) pigeons. She finished as 4th national… In 2008, a daughter out of this ‘Nathalie’ was basketed for La Souterraine. This was also the test case to see if the quality of her offspring would be good too… ‘Dochter Nathalie’ won the 5th national against 21,256 pigeons… In that same year, also the ‘F16’ was born out of Kleine Dirk x Fleur. In 2008, he would become the best young pigeon in Belgium in 3 national races, with among others 6th national Argenton against 25,583 pigeons and an 8th national La Souterraine against 21,256 pigeons.
One of the high points was achieved during the race that many see as the best race in Belgium, the national Bourges for young pigeons. In 2010 a host of pigeons came to the start again, and Herman and Johnny won the 2nd, 3rd and 5th national against, believe it or not, 30,748 pigeons. Incredibly good. The 2nd national Bourges was won by the ‘Lady Fleur’ out of Kleine Dirk x Fleur. The 3rd national was for the ‘Mirage’ out of a different coupling, and the 5th national was won by a grandchild out of Kleine Dirk x Fleur. In 2011 an equally simple and practical coupling was made; the ‘Lady Fleur’, 2nd Bourges, was coupled to the ‘Mirage’, 3rd national Bourges. How simple pigeon sport can be when you have good quality pigeons… It was of course still a risk because on paper a pair can look very interesting, but this couple proved to be a hit in practice as well! Because out of this coupling came their first pigeon in the national Argenton 2011, a race in which participated more than 20,000 pigeons, and they managed to win the 9th national…
As with all achievements from anybody and in any sport, there are always experts/theorists who have something to say about your performance, no matter how good. If you perform well with young pigeons, you should try proving yourself with old pigeons. If you win in the speed races, you should try doing the same in the one-day races. When you do well in the last drop, you should show your quality in the first drop, and so on, and so on. Typical human behavior, and for many top fanciers this is the motivation to try that little bit harder. It was the same for Jespers-Vanderwegen. It didn’t take long before they were given the title of young pigeon specialists, and critics soon came with the expected sayings: they should try doing as well with old pigeons…! That would be a totally different story.
The challenge was accepted and in 2014, so very recently indeed, they entered the national La Souterraine with a team of yearlings. There were 9,815 yearlings in the competition, and the pigeons from Johnny and Herman were trained well. They had built another loft especially for this team of old pigeons. And what not everybody had expected or maybe hoped for happened nonetheless. Again they performed magnificently and won 1st and 3rd national against 9,815 pigeons, with the ‘Nadetta’ and the ‘Ramona’. And the ‘Nadetta’ was also fastest of all 16,449 contestants. For the time being, the helmsmen at the sideline will be silent once more…
Both pigeons were born out of two different cocks from Vandenabeele who were coupled to two hens directly out of the super coupling Kleine Dirk x Fleur. The cocks from Vandenabeele came respectively out of a daughter of the ‘Bliksem’ and out of the ‘Rudy’, son of the same ‘Bliksem’. The mother of the 1st national was ‘Belle Fleur’, last daughter of Fleur x Kleine Dirk. And the mother of the 3rd national was the ‘500 hen’, who was the first young that they bred from Kleine Dirk x Fleur. Jespers-Vanderwegen has come full circle, and we have as well in regard to this series over Ad Schaerlaeckens and his pigeons out of the line of ‘Ace Four’.
Beyond categorization (‘Hors category’)
The top pigeons that the ‘Ace Four’ and his descendants have produced are ‘beyond categorization’ (in French cycling races it is called ‘Hors category’ and means a climb that is beyond categorization or an incredibly tough climb). The partners they were coupled with were of course also of great quality that is obvious. But I think that the ‘Ace Four’ has more than earned his place in pigeon sport history, and that he and his brothers, sisters and other relatives, can be classified as great breeding and racing wonders. And also in the future, toppers with ‘Ace Four’ blood in their veins will certainly frequently been born. That much has become clear by now. As for us, we will end this extensive series with a deep bow to the ‘Ace Four’ family and its breeder and racer Ad Schaerlaeckens!