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  The Verhellen Strian
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Two 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.

Two 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.

An 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.

One 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.

In 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).

One 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.

The 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.




Liam O Comain  -
by: Liam O Comain

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