They do not understand
Due to the Internet the world has become more open, which also applies to pigeon sport.
Fanciers from all over the world are interested in the latest news from the roots of this sport; Holland and even more Belgium.
And they sometimes raise eyebrows.
'How come' they often ask me that in Holland in certain areas an entry of say 6,000 pigeons in a race is kind of normal, while in Belgium an entry of 400 birds is considered 'great' in many areas.
One reason is that the average Belgian fancier keeps fewer birds, since they race for money while in Holland there is little money in the races today.
Another reason is totally different ways of racing.
I tried explain things in another article but apparently I was not clear enough.
MAY IN HOLLAND
Take the month of May, before the long distance races start in both countries.
Then the Dutch have ONE (middle distance) race only on Saturday.
Also the long distance racers participate to prepare their birds for the fond.
Many of them do not clock but still the birds are considered to participate.
So if in a club there are say 30 fanciers who have 30 birds average, they are all in the race in most cases, which means 900 birds.
Some decades ago racing on club level had the first priority but times have changed. Today there are combines (several clubs) and Federations (several combines) and 'Afdelingen' (several federations).
A combine may consist of 3 clubs, but it may be 8 as well.
A Federation may consist of many combines and in many parts of Holland there is a result sheet on Federation level.
No or little money can be won but the entry may be gigantic.
MAY IN BELGIUM
How different the situation is in Belgium.
In May most Belgians have a middle distance race on Saturday and 2 short distance races on Sunday.
That means 3 races instead of one you think?
It means 6 races instead of 1 since yearlings and old birds fly in different competitions.
So a Dutch fancier who has 30 birds has no other choice than to enter them in one race while his Belgian fellow sportsman can participate in 6 races:
- Quievrain (short distance) old birds.
- Quievrain yearlings.
- Noyon (short distance) old birds.
- Noyon yearlings.
- A middle distance race old birds.
- A middle distance race yearlings.
THERE IS MORE
But that is not it.
The Dutch race in the club in their home town while the Belgians are free to race elsewhere.
From the same release station they can even enter birds in different combines.
So if they plan to enter 6 birds in a middle distance race it is quite possible they participate in 2 different competitions with 3 birds each.
6 Birds only?
Well, that is quite normal in Belgium.
Many result sheets show that there are few fanciers that enter 10 birds or more, while in Holland there are few fanciers that enter less than 20 birds.
This is due to the fact that in Belgium more money is at stake.
Now you may understand that when we clocked manual I once saw 8 clocks on a racing day at Houben's.
ME AND MYSELF
Since 2006 I also race in Belgium.
8 Fanciers live very close, in the same street, but from the SAME release they race in 3 different combines.
I myself race in a strong Fed in which I can compete the great names.
It once happened that I had 12 birds before my neighbour even got one but my neighbour got 3rd prize in the combine in which he raced, I started with prize 7 in my Fed.
Business wise (to sell birds) it would be smarter to race in combines where competition is poor.
If I did I could show off with many firsts but I prefer to compete big names such as Dirk van Dijck, Geerinckx, Berckmoes, van Elsacker Jepsen, Roodhooft, Geerts, Baeck and so on.
What I want to say is that as for the entry you cannot compare Holland and Belgiumat all and a great entry does not necessarily mean strong competition.
Normally people prefer a winner from 700 birds to a winner from 400 birds.
In Holland it may happen that 5 fanciers together enter 700 birds.
In many Belgian areas it is not strange that say 175 fanciers enter 400 birds.
It stands to reason that a competition of 700 birds that belong to 5 fanciers is quite different from a competition of 400 birds that were entered by 175 fanciers.
Now you may understand why I once wrote that I would prefer a winner of 300 pigeons in certain Belgian areas to a winner of 10,000 birds in certain Dutch areas.
A Dutch champ is Bosua who won 1st and 2nd in the biggest old bird race we ever got from Le Mans. Apart from that he had Olympiad birds and winners against immense amounts of birds.
They nearly all descend from pigeons he bought in Belgium.
The Belgians where he got his birds are unable to win 1st, 2nd and 3rd against some 100s of birds while Bosua manages to do so against 1000s of birds.
With Koopman it is the same story. His winners mainly descend from imports fromBelgium.
The conclusion may be that Belgian birds are superior, but it is not that simple.
Food for thought for another article.