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The Bricoux Strain
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Renier Gurnay of Verviers, Belgium, began in the sport as a runner for the great Mons Hansenne of world wide pigeon fame. A teenager in the time of no timing clocks in the 1870's he relished the tasks that he had to do for Hansenne. For his love of pigeons had started early in life and this was stimulated by Hansenne whose own sons had no interest in the sport.  In due course Gurnay received pigeons from his mentor and as Hansenne died in 1903 he purchased some very good stock of the latter's lofts because of his inside knowledge and began a journey which saw him in the eyes of others eclipse his mentor. His foundation hen called the 'Old Blue Hen' whose progeny won over 500,000 dollars was the base of a wonderful and prosperous pigeon career although he was a successful business man in his own right as a merchant in tailor linings.The strain to be looked at in this piece is the Bricoux strain which reigned supreme in Belgium in particular between the two world wars i.e. approximately 1919 and 1939. During that time Bricoux was unbeatable based upon the truth that he was an outstanding breeder of racing pigeons. The base of which arose from the exchanging of young birds with the great French champion Paul Sion. And as time passed the intelligent Doctor won 14 Nationals, was 2nd in Nationals twelve times and scored in the top twenty on approximately 125 occasions.

Being a Doctor however Bricoux had his critics arising from the phenomenal results of his pigeons even to the extent of being accused of using drugs to increase his lofts potential. His superiority however arose from the fact that he was a maestro at the widowhood method and held the reputation of being one of the first to use it in Belgium. As for his young birds they were never raced but well trained and given time to mature. The yearlings were raced from the nest whereas those two years and older were sent as widowers to the long distance races, for he was of the belief that there were horses for courses and that one had to specialize.

Inbreeding was his preferred breeding method although he acknowledged that a cross had to be brought in at sometime. The out cross had to be from an inbred or line bred family. In general preferring well built pigeons with sound constitutions coupled with broad and rounded backs and rigid vents. This was the standard of what he required in a pigeon nevertheless he would not adhere to it rigidly for there was always room for pragmatism in Bricoux's thinking.

When one looks at the results obtained by this great strain under the tutelage of its founder then one realizes that this was a master of his art for he produced champions like the great 'Kleine Geschelpte' which was sent on five occasions to the Pau National and won on the five occasions. A super pigeon! Then there was the famous ' Rode Libourne' which was 4th National from Angouleme in 1930 followed in 1932 and 1933 with National wins from Angouleme and Bordeaux respectively. Another of his great birds was the 'Goede Rode Bricoux' which scored a 2nd and a 4th National. Of course the master breeder was the world famous 'Jules Caesar' a red cock of magnificent physique. Red was one of Bricoux's favourite colours because quite a number of the strains winners were of this hue and as such were nicknamed 'The Red Locomotives'.

What the reader may not know about Dr. Bricoux is that apparently all of his pigeons were killed during the war in a charge of the French Army and although other fanciers like Nestor Tremmery, whose loft were mostly of the Bricoux strain, provided other birds in substitution the good Doctor never got over the apparent shock and died a few months later. Thus the Doctor who created one of the pivotal strains in the history of the sport like all mortals could not escape the shadow of the cross inspite of the fact that he had previously shared in the glory. It was then left to his son Arthur to continue with the work but he lacked the genius of his father and in 1952 what was left came under the hammer. But rest assured that the name of Bricoux is amongst the bright lights of the greats of the sport of pigeon breeding and racing.

Liam O Comain  -
by: Liam O Comain

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