*With grateful thanks to Henk Simonsz www.pigeonfever.nl
The loft that Ad built in 1980 is still the same one from which he races today. He now only uses half of it.
Ad Schaerlaeckens from Baarle-Nassau in the Netherlands is a real phenomenon in the pigeon sport. He received worldwide fame as a writer and as a pigeon racer. In this extensive series, which has been written especially for sports magazine De Duif, we will go back in time, to describe the start and the construction and expansion of his small, but impressive colony.
Before long, Ad had stopped thinking about football completely and had his focus completely on the pigeon sport. From the very first day he understood that quality was all-important and, as luck would have it, his neighbour was a man of means and ‘Would you believe it? ’ also kept racing pigeons… His name was Janus Vermeulen and the pigeons that he possessed were brimming with quality.
One of these pigeons was the famous ’05’, one of the best pigeons that Ad Schaerlaeckens has ever known in his long career. Very quickly, Ad had gained the trust of Janus Vermeulen and when he was offered to help care for the pigeons, Ad felt as if he had won the lottery. Because in exchange for looking after and cleaning the lofts, he frequently got eggs and young from the top pigeons to improve the quality of his own colony.
All these introductory activities ensured that when the time came that Ad himself was ready for bigger things, he was in possession of a loft with real thoroughbreds. This was in the early 1970’s, and from that start onwards, Ad has always raced for top positions. We were able to find some newspaper clippings from that time, and it is remarkable that the titles of these articles left little to the imagination. Ad performed very well in almost every race in which he participated, and the races that he really concentrated on were often completely dominated by his pigeons. This led frequently to desperation in the other fanciers, but also in the organizers who asked themselves how they could restrain this pigeon force. In the early 1980’s, when he built his new loft and house in Baarle-Nassau where he still lives, Ad was performing so well that it was a nightmare for many fanciers when he arrived to basket his pigeons for a race. In those days there was still a lot of pooling and with good pigeons you could win a nice amount every week. And Ad Schaerlaeckens did not just have good pigeons; he had really, really good pigeons. At least, that is what his competitors said, and you can’t get a better reference. Not that they weren’t pleased for him, because everyone likes a winner, but when it began to feel more like domination, the ‘circle of friends’ diminished fairly quickly. But that is also part of the game and you just have to take it in your stride. After all, tall trees catch much wind, and it is no different in the pigeon sport. The newspaper clippings that we found from that time give a really clear picture. One of them said: ‘Ad Schaerlaeckens turns everything upside down’, the next one says a lot too: ‘Ad Schaerlaeckens, untouchable and unchallenged’, and what do you think of this one: ‘Ad Schaerlaeckens is still the trend setter’ and although we have many more of these headlines, we finish with this significant clipping of a race in which not one pigeon was able to achieve 1,000m/per minute: ‘It doesn’t make any difference for Ad Schaerlaeckens from Baarle-Nassau because he still has three pigeons in three minutes and those are of course also the first three prizes in the competition. Ad also clears the whole shelf by winning all the free prizes and the ‘Cuubag’ pools. Congratulations with this stunt’…
Keep the pleasure
Of course Ad wanted to keep pleasure in his hobby and he approached the board in Baarle-Nassau to find a solution for his dominance. In the end it was ‘decided’, that Ad would stop pooling, so that the other fanciers could also keep their pleasure in the sport and would still be able to win a good prize. As said before, Ad was building a beautiful detached house at the Boschovenseweg in Baarle-Nassau, and one of the first priorities was to built an especially for that time, fantastic loft. Until this day, this loft is still used for racing, and with some small alterations every year it kept getting better and better.
Newspaper clippings below from the beginning of his career that show clearly his quality…
The Janssen line
In the late 1970’s one of the two most important bloodlines of super pigeons in the lofts of Ad Schaerlaeckens began to take shape. This line, which for convenience sake we shall call the ‘Janssen line’, made many fellow fanciers into champions and produced many top pigeons for breeding and good racing pigeons. The golden age of pigeons with a Janssen line basis in the lofts of Ad Schaerlaeckens was from the second half of the 1970’s until the early 1990’s. Notwithstanding these top pigeons, Ad kept constantly searching for pigeons to cross with these Janssen pigeons. Time and again he managed to find another breed to cross with, often in lofts that were still unknown to other fanciers, and for which Ad Schaerlaeckens was the first interested fancier. Before the masses realized what kind of pigeons such a loft produced, Ad was already testing them. He crossed them mainly with the Janssen pigeons in his lofts and a direct son of the ‘Jonge Merckx’ became a kind of figurehead among these.
For the second important bloodline that would write history, the first seed was sown in 1988. We will conveniently call this line the ‘Ace Four line’. Why we choose this name will become clear later, because this line particularly resulted in an explosion of class pigeons which boosted a lot of lofts on their way to the top. Where the Janssen line was already the absolute top, the Ace Four line was of world class. Even now this line performs so well every week as not often seen in the international pigeon sport. Especially when you realize with how many pigeons it all happened. We will analyze and describe them all for you, so that you will get an interesting view behind the scenes of the Ad Schaerlaeckens Empire.
(to be continued)
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