*A by now historic photograph. Ad Schaerlaeckens on a visit to Jef and Luc Houben. Their ‘Jonge Artiest’, ‘Sony’, ‘Chipy’ and many other top pigeons were world famous.
Ad Schaerlaeckens had all but forgotten about the ‘Sissy’ when he received a letter from the Japanese fancier who had bought her. The Japanese did not write to tell him how pleased he was with the pigeon, no, he found the bird a disaster in the hand and he was very disappointed about the fact that Ad Schaerlaeckens had contrived to sent him such a bad pigeon. The Japanese buyer had conveniently forgotten that it was he himself who wanted the ‘Sissy’ so badly because of its pedigree. But Ad wasn’t bothered by it and wrote back that he would reimburse the money and that the Japanese should send the ‘Sissy’ back to him. Ad didn’t find it a problem.
So for the second time in her life, the ‘Sissy’ made a long air flight, this time back to Europe. She is one of a very few birds that made the trip to the far East and back again. A unique story, almost as unique as the breeding qualities of a hen that was so badly underestimated in the first place. Later, dozens of her children and grandchildren that grew into top pigeons in a number of lofts, would make that same journey, and stay there.
The main reason that most fanciers were not immediately impressed by the ‘Sissy’ was most likely because, for that time, she was a very small hen. She also had a colour that was not very popular, dark blue has less appeal than a nice light blue or checkered pigeon. What the ‘Sissy’ did have, and Ad still remembers this very well, was an extremely soft plume and a bright yellow eye in a very clever little head.
Anyway, the ‘Sissy’ came back to the Netherlands as live cargo, and Ad put her in the aviary for the time being. He did not worry about it and would later decide what to do with the bird…
In the meantime, without being aware of it, the formation of a golden triangle of top breeders was developed further. In 1991, Ad Schaerlaeckens received a telephone call from a fancier named Mattens, who wanted to sell his entire colony in one sale, preferably without a public sale with a lot of fuss. He wanted to sell his loft with pigeons to a fancier abroad, and Ad was the mediator. The entire loft would go to Japan. Ad collected the pigeons for dispatch and Mattens gave him a nice late cock as a present for his trouble.
Ad didn’t really need this cock and he was tempted to send it to Japan with the Mattens colony, but his wife Mia didn’t agree. She said that he couldn’t give the bird away because it was a present.
In his heart, Ad had to agree with her, and the blue cock was also put into the breeding loft. It was the NL91-2310369, who would later become world famous under the name of ‘Mattensdoffer’.
The other side of the triangle was bred by Ad himself in 1992, out of a hen named the ‘Blauw vd Veeke’. This hen was a full sister of the ‘Gouden Crack’ from the ZNB and came out of the alleged wonder couple from Hans van der Veeke from Westdorpe. Ad paired her with the ‘Lichte Orleans’ from 1991, who among others won a 4th national Orleans against 7,209 pigeons, and out of whose well known bloodlines came the ‘Kleine Merckx’ and the ‘Goede Jaarling’.
The hen that he bred out of this couple had ring number NL92-5212284 and Ad thoroughly tested her in races first, as he did with almost every one of his later breeding pigeons. She won several head prizes, among which 4th national Chartres against 4,252 pigeons, 3rd St Quentin against 3,084 birds and 7th Chateauroux against 3,085 pigeons.
All in all, she was a real good pigeon and also a beautiful bird in the hand. Everything felt right about that hen, a nice long body, perfectly balanced, a very good character in the loft and lovely expressive eyes. All that, in combination with her achievements, gave her the name ‘Beauty 1’ and she would, together with ‘Sissy’ and the ‘Mattensdoffer’, claim a leading role in the stock development of the Ace Four line.
Many top couples that have afterwards been formed with wonderful ‘connoisseurs stories’, actually seem to have been formed more by accident than design. It wasn’t much different for Ad Schaerlaeckens. He believes in two things: the quality of the pigeons and couples that are attracted to each other. He hates forced pairings, by which he means pigeons who do not like each other that are put together. Ad believes that this does definitely not have a positive influence on the quality of the young pigeons. That is why he practices casual pairing where the pigeons are allowed to choose their own partner. In 1992, both the ‘Sissy’ and the ‘Mattensdoffer’ sat in the same breeding loft quite by chance, and in no-time they were huddled in a corner, very much in love. This boded well…
One of the first pigeons this couple produced was the ‘Creilman’ with ring number NL92-5212278. He developed into a very good racing pigeon and flew among others a 1st Chantilly against 3,004 pigeons and a 1st Creil against 4,214 pigeons, which gave him his name. The couple Mattens x Sissy was a success, but although they produced very good racing pigeons, their children’s offspring was not yet very remarkable. For instance, direct children from the ‘Creilman’ didn’t stand out as excellent racers but (later) they would prove to become super breeders.
In subsequent years, the couple Mattens x Sissy produced more children, and all were entered in every race of the entire (tough) program as young pigeon.
In the end, the (most) important pigeons out of the Mattens x Sissy coupling turned out to be three cocks and one hen. Besides the before mentioned ‘Creilman’, these cocks were the ‘Blauwe Geeloog’ (among others father of the ‘Ace Four’, the ‘Supertje 144’ and the ‘Kleine 230’), and the ‘Orleansdoffertje’ (who produced among others the ‘Picasso’ and ‘Bubbles’). The hen was the ’26’, who would become the mother of the ‘Invincible’ and others. These are just a couple of highlights to indicate the direction the formation of the golden triangle was taking.
The final spark was thrown into this powder keg with the pairing of sons from the Mattens x Sissy couple against the fantastic ‘Beauty 1’ from 1992. The breeding value of these pairings proved to be unequaled.
Especially the coupling of the Blauwe Geeloog (NL93-1059895) x Beauty 1 (NL92-5212284) was a first class Bulls Eye…
(to be continued)