Pulle, Belgium – With a golden clocking at 17 hrs 26.31 (distance 535 kilometers, speed 1,285 meter/minute), the blue hen ‘Friendship’ (6058777-14) follows in the footsteps of loft mate ‘Cow Girl’ (1st National Bourges against 24,676 old pigeons in 2011). The ‘Friendship’ was basketed as first nominated of 16 hens (5 old ones and 11 yearlings), all of whom had been doing extremely well over the last weeks. The middle long-distance season has only just began, but Rik realizes memorable feats week after week:
9th May Souppes against 3,403 pigeons, 9th and 17th (15 prizes with 16 pigeons).
17th May Souppes against 1,058 pigeons, 1st and 2nd.
24th May Souppes against 2,686 pigeons, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th (also the three fastest Prov. Antwerpen West against about 8,500 pigeons).
31st May Bourges Nat. Zone against 7,739 yearlings, 18th, 25th, 28th, 76th, 130th, 152nd (11 of 11) and 47th, 69th and 169th Nat. Zone against 5,691 old pigeons (4 of 5).
Five days after the race from Bourges, these same hens left for Chateauroux. The pigeons in the racing loft were certainly in top form and Rik and Jan wanted to make the most of this. The release turned out to be a close run thing. For a long time, Rik feared that the pigeons wouldn’t be released at all. But fortunately, at 10.30, the long expected starting sign was given for a difficult, but good race with two well deserved winners from Antwerp.
Rik has been using the same method for many years now. His total racing team consists of twenty couples on total widowhood. This year, the best quality is found among the hens. Of the best eight, Rik leaves the cocks at home. The successful yearlings stayed in the loft as young pigeons. During the winter, the pigeons are frequently let into the aviaries in front of the loft, but they are not released. Only when the young pigeons from the first breeding round of father Jan come to the loft, the new yearlings are moved to the widowers loft. To let the birds acclimatize to the new loft, they are released often.
This year, Rik coupled his pigeons at 22nd March and he removed all the eggs on 12th April. The form started to appear very quickly… on 26th April, Rik finished 5th with the first nominated ‘Friendship’ in the race from Noyon against 1,799 yearlings. Even then she was already in top form.
Until Bourges the pigeons exercised twice a day. Not too long in the beginning of the week. But closer to the time of the race, the training was stepped up. Rik’s hens exercise together with the pigeons of neighbour Danny Van Dyck. The exercise is mandatory and they are kept in the air with the help of a balloon filled with helium.
For the medical care, Rik can count on the attentive care of his friend Rob Hoekstra. The last consult was two weeks before Bourges, but the pigeons have still not received any medication since July of last year. They do get a yellow drop in the beak against tricho every week (on the day of return or the following day). The week before Bourges, Rik started with eye drops from Rob (three times a week). “It can’t do the birds any harm and gives the fancier peace of mind,” Rik says. The pigeons are always fed enough. At the beginning of the week with a lighter mixture (Gerry Plus from Versele). From Tuesday evening, they are given full tray sport. Wednesday evening and Thursday they get even heavier feed with half sport and half Energy Plus (all from Versele).
Rik: “Let me just tell you that I had a bit of luck last year. Deterred by a bad weather forecast, I left all the young birds that I wanted to keep at home for the race from Gueret. And everyone knows how it ended. Luck was certainly on my side then.”
The watch team from Chateauroux consisted of Rik, father Jan, neighbour Danny Van Dyck and in the end also Miel Van den Branden. Miel came to watch the spectacle, but was five minutes too late for the arrival of the ‘Friendship’. At the time that ‘Cow Girl’ scored her first national Bourges, Miel was in the Scottish Highlands. There is always something, but his pleasure wasn’t any less because of it.
The ‘Friendship’ has a pedigree to dazzle. Her father is a direct Jan Hooymans out of wonder pigeon ‘Harry’ x ‘Last One’. Who is none other than the last daughter of ‘Jaarling’ x ‘Janssenduivin’, the stock couple that runs like a red thread through the loft of Jan and Rik. This stock couple is very successful again at other lofts over the last weeks, with among others 1st NPO Montlucon (Gert Jan Timmermans), 2nd NPO Argenton (Will Geudens) and last but not least Hilde and Luc Sioen with 2nd provincial Tours and 3rd + 5th provincial Chateauroux.
Mother of the ‘Friendship’ is a direct Dirk Van Dyck out of ‘Olympic Niels’, Olympiad pigeon Nitra 2013 (direct son ‘Di Caprio’ Leo Heremans). Dirk didn’t realize that he had a chance for Nitra but was alerted to it by Rik, who sent in the application of ‘Olympic Niels’ as well. One month later, the telephone went in Pulle. Dirk was calling that he had a couple of young out of ‘Olympic Niels’ ready…
Rik could collect them as a goodwill gesture… the prettiest one was for the Gouden Duif and the other is now the mother of the 1st national Chateauroux. Which shows that the name ‘Friendship’ is certainly appropriate for this bright little hen.