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pigeons were bought at a sale of young birds in
1983 and they were mainly of Cattrysse and Van
der Espt bloodlines. The buyer was an astute Belgian
called Hilaire Verhellen and the goods bought
proved in time to be 'good' in the true sense
of the latter term for both eventually nicknamed
'The Beard' and 'The Dreamer' are the basis of
good racing and breeding pigeons. The fathers
of the two founders were apparently brothers whereas
the mother of 'The Beard' was the sister of 1st
national St.Vincent. The mother of 'The Dreamer'
carried Van de Weghe and Verhaegen and son bloodlines.
Thus started, based upon a regime of severe culling,
the formation of one of the best strains produced
in Europe in the latter end of the twentieth century.
interesting aspect of the Verhellen set up is
the owners patience for in the younger years of
the pigeons existence they are not given the stick
so to speak and as a result there are many 7 and
8 year old flyers in the lofts. In fact the young
cocks receive up to 100km training tosses and
are then stopped until they are yearlings. Then
they are lightly raced until the age of two but
after that they have to toe the line. In fact
if during their first three years any bird showing
signs of weakness say arriving fatigued from a
race it is removed from the loft. The success
of this type of management is endorsed when one
sees a seven year old winning 1st provincial Pau
and a year later winning International Super Champion
Pau. The lofts have also recorded a second position
in the same international championship with a
similar aged pigeon.
of the toughest competitions in Europe is the
'Europe Cup' for it entails obtaining points from
four international races Pau, Barcelona, Marseille,
and Perpignan across three competitions that is
1) Competition with the first nominated pigeon
on the four races; 2) Competition with the first
two nominated pigeons on the four races; 3) Competition
most prizes with the first five nominated pigeons
on the four races (for Pau only the two first
nominated). The winner of the Europe Cup is the
one with the best performance over these three
competitions. Well Verhellen confirmed the class
of his strain by winning the Europe Cup in 1992,
was third in 1993, and fifth in 1994. He was the
first who was ever able to classify himself three
times within the history of the Europe Cup, only
10 persons are classified each year.
time crosses were brought into the family mainly
from families with Aarden bloodlines and were
a success but Verhellen considers it a good day
that he obtained some Robert Venus pigeons and
especially the Supercrack line (Crusson) for he
possesses two brothers of the latter background
which are considered champions, 'Narbonneke' and
'Narbonneke 2', both won a first provincial and
'Narbonneke' won 26 prizes at the long distances.
Also with the same blood 'Pauke' (6th national
Pau 1986) and 'Brother Pauke' (4 prizes from Barcelona
and one of the nominated who won the Europe Cup).
of the many interesting pigeons owned by Verhellen
is 'The Dax'. Apparently its owner had to force
feed this bird for four weeks because it had Paramixo
yet it survived and went on to record positions
in three nationals within the top one hundred.
I wonder how many of us would have done what Verhellen
did with this bird which now occupies a valuable
space in the stud loft.
strain of Hilaire Verhellen may not be well known
in the English speaking world but their achievements
at the distance warrants further publicity. For
as I have written in the past the wider dissemination
of the available blood stock information of the
best strains is important for the development
of the sport of long distant pigeon racing worldwide.
by: Liam O Comain