Climbing in the basket?
“I don’t believe in that. I would rather basket them with a 10 rating than an 8.5. They go into the basket fully fueled and round like a barrel. I think that’s why they turn their nose up at the food in the baskets on the first day, also because of all the manure from those nesting pigeons. And that they will eat more on Thursday and perhaps even more on Friday. Well, there will be pigeons that run up in the basket, who knows. But I don’t count on things that I can’t see at the moment of basketing.”
Arjan Beens 2x 1e NPO is “nice by-catch”
“Besides overnight long distance pigeons I also have a number of one day long distance pigeons. In any case, I race the six NPO races that the program has here in preparation for the multi-day races and then I also like to see an early pigeon. You do need other pigeons for that and I looked for them from Albert van der Haar, Mark and Gerard van den Berg and Rik Hermans. They are among the yearlings and are not changed from one loft to another when they are two years old. They actually do not fit in in terms of care because they are kept just like the overnight pigeons and are also in between them. That means a long time in the dark and if the multi-day long distance pigeons leave the loft on Tuesday, they still have two days to go. Not ideal, but I already won an NPO competition with it twice. I call that a nice by-catch. And one of those pigeons is 100% Rik Hermans and the other is a half and a half from Gerard van den Berg. So people who claim that the extreme middle distance pigeons from Belgium cannot handle the one-day long distance here in my eyes.”
Full in 2021?
“Given the performance I think I’m on the right track. But a balanced team with which you can race everything, including ZLU, will take a few more years. This is mainly due to the lack of sufficient good old pigeons of 4, 5 and 6 years. That still breaks me down to be able to race everything fully. This year I will participate in Barcelona, for example, but I already know that it will also be a bit ‘in hope of blessing’. I am also careful with yearlings. I actually think Perpignan is a bit far for pigeons that also have to grow more. The favorites for later are among them and I want to enjoy them for years to come. There is a very good team of two-year-olds here, I have faith in that and they have already done very well as a yearling. The intention is to race 1 or 2 1000 kilometer races with the yearlings at the stations Perigueux, Bressols (Montauban) or Bergerac. The old pigeons fly St. Vincent and go to the ZLU flights. The old ones are usually basketed 3 times on the classics.”
“To be honest, I wasn’t really into that at all and hadn’t counted on this podium place either. More like a top ten finish. In retrospect you think I should have done it differently on a few races. But that’s looking a bull in the ass. Getting pigeons in the formula of the Extreme Long Distance competition should be possible with a good team, I think. I estimate that this is less difficult than the three first nominated in the sprint and middle distance and two first nominated in the one-day long distance.
Mind you, Mario de Vogel is a beautiful winner. I looked him up on Facebook when I saw that he had a great start with a small team of pigeons at the beginning of the overnight season. And what I saw online is wonderful. Just as he enjoys the sport on the square meter with his children and makes beautiful advertising for it! Congratulations and congratulations!”
Text: de Duif