Pros Roosen, Jos Soontjens, Jan Grondelaers
There is only ONE Pros Roosen !...Part 2 The basis of the strain (1965-2000)...
- View Larger Image
In part 1 of this story you could read about the man Pros Roosen and about the way he prepares his pigeons into top achievements. Today we ask Pros how he acquired all those good pigeons. Because it can't be coincidence that he always chooses the best breeders ...
The basis of the strain (1965-2000)
The shortest way to the top
"I have been involved with pigeons for more than half a century," Pros begins, "and I must say that I have always been fairly successful ... How I come by good pigeons? That is a long story. In general I have two ways, two systems. The first system is the most direct of the two. That is to acquire ONE pigeon, selected on pure quality, and cross this bird with my own best pigeons as quickly as possible. This requires finesse, anticipation and especially knowing very well what you are looking for. Compare it with a cat who plans its jump very carefully and then pounces. Take care that such a pigeon doesn't cost a fortune. Experience has taught me that you can buy a good breeding pigeon with its whole breeding career still before it for just a few pennies ...
The second system is more 'power in numbers'. That means to buy a large number of youngsters - say 30 or 60 or so - from a renowned loft and select these very quickly and ruthlessly. I use this method when I can't find a good breeder. And strange as it sounds, this way is much more difficult. The chance that there are good pigeons in these acquisitions is so very small. I have had the best success from the lofts of Soontjens and Frenken."
I suggest that his second way is a bit of a luxury and not everyone is in a position to buy some 25 youngsters from Cor de Heijde for example ... "You are absolutely right," Pros admits, "I have never spared any expense when it comes to buying pigeons. But there is a third system for fanciers who don't have that much money to spare. And that is the way of friendship. With a box of chocolates and a bottle of wine you can often acquire good pigeons . I have already given away a few thousand pigeons in this way ..."
After a moments silence, Pros adds: "You know, I also think that many good pigeons never develop because the fancier doesn't realize that he has a good pigeon. How many cracks could there be, who are wasting away because of not being looked after properly, a draughty loft, overpopulation, having more pigeons than you have time to look after ... Every fancier nowadays should have 'pedigree' in his loft, because of the sales and the Internet."
Pigeon fancier in short trousers
Pros was born on the 5th June 1939, a few months before the start of the war. Father Emiel Roosen was a passionate fancier and as a small child Pros already accompanied him to the loft. And the pigeon bug never left him. When Pros was a bit older, he and his father raced together under the name of 'Roosen Emiel and Prosper'.
"Those were very different times," Pros tells us, "then people only had money to feed one or two breeding couples. At best we bought 20 rings ... These days most fanciers order their pigeon feed by the thousand kilograms ..."
The early, 'Blue family' of father and son Roosen consisted mainly of pigeons from De Haes, Geuns and Vercammen.
But their career together didn't last very long. In 1965, when Pros was only 25 years old, he lost his father. Pros was a trainee estate agent and did not have enough time to continue racing on his own. Also at that time he didn't live in Stokrooie, where the lofts were situated, but in an apartment in Hasselt. But then he couldn't live without pigeons so he decided to race on his own.
The period that followed was not easy. To strengthen the breed, Pros acquired new blood. He bought pigeons from amongst others Biron from Emblem, Gust Ducheine from Schoten and Gust Hofkens from Merksplas, all renowned fanciers at that time. In 1969 Pros became champion of Limburg with these young pigeons and from then on he began racing better and better. And this instigated an ambition to become the best of all ...
In 1972 Pros moved to a house in Kuringen and there he would build his own loft. Everything went well until ... a tennis club was founded on the plot next door. This would be a disaster for the pigeons, always movement and noise. But Pros didn't despair. His estate agency was doing well and he began searching for another house. Finally, in 1976, he and his family moved to the delightful house in Kermt, where he is still living. And in 1977 he started again with a splendid new loft at the Holrakkerstraat in Kermt.
With the pigeons Pros hadn't stood still either. He still wanted to become the best and now made a break-through. He did what he would always keep telling others: "Don't go looking too far from home." So he went to Limburg, to the best fanciers of that time, the famous trio Jef Vansweevelt, Jan Grondelaers and Jef Carlens.
Jef Vansweefelt from Tessenderlo
"I have always looked up to Jef Vansweefelt," Pros explains, "maybe even more than to Jan Grondelaers. Vansweefelt was my idol, Grondelaers was my tutor and example."
Pros visited Vansweefelt frequently, just to talk about pigeons and to look at the birds. And Jef was always more than willing to 'talk pigeons'. Sometimes he even postponed his work on the farm for it. In 1973, Pros was already doing well in his estate agent business in Runkster, and he plucked up his courage and went to Jef to buy a few of his best, or even 'the' best pigeons. At that time, Jef was breeding cracks at a steady pace out of his super couple 'Oude Vercammen' x daughter of the 'Oude Koppel'. And Pros certainly wanted to buy one of those.
Jef had 7 or 8 brothers out of that couple, that were as good as each other and who took it in turn to win 1st provincial from the middle-distance and short middle-distance races. Also, a few more brothers and sisters were currently breeding, so Jef should have a few to spare. And not it would seem too cheaply, Pros had stuffed his pockets with money.
Jef was a modest man, we could even say that he was the 'champion of modesty'. He had a large family with eight children and had to work hard to provide food for them. If he could sell a pigeon now and again - and he had good pigeons - to top up his income, that was a nice windfall, and Pros profited from that. So when he went to Jef in 1973 to buy a few of his best pigeons, it went even better than he had hoped for ...
"I even had money left," Pros memorizes, "and the result exceeded all of my expectations ..."
When Pros left Jef that day, he came away with the most valuable collection of pigeons that he would own during the rest of his life:
- The 'Oude IJzeren' (5041433-70), that had only won 1st provincial St. Denis with 18 minutes ahead! And that was not a one off, because he also won 2nd provincial Marseille (with 12 minutes in the lead, while Carlens took the first prize) and 8th provincial Cahors (again with 10 minutes in the lead). "It really was an 'iron' pigeon, Pros says, "a pigeon of concrete, who could also race the longer and more difficult races. He became a super breeder in my loft in Kermt".
- The 'Blauwe Witpen' (5041485-70), one of the eight brothers out of the Superkoppel, good for a 1st provincial (also for a 4th semi-national against some 11,000 pigeons) and a 13th provincial Chateauroux in races that were only two weeks apart. This pigeon had its influence on the breed Roosen too.
Jef was happy about the amount he received for his pigeons and gave Pros a couple of hens to take away for free.
With that Jef had by no means lost all of his good pigeons, because he still had at least six or seven brothers, among which the '199', or in full the '5155199-71 (grandfather of the 'Schilderij' of Gommaar Verbruggen...), the '202', the 'Witte Fantast', the 'Coenen Vlieger' (5155228-71) and the 'Coenen Kweker' (5155225-71), the '896-70', and so on.
The Superkoppel from Jef consisted of the 'Oude Vercammen' (6264829-67) -Houben x Bruynseels x Janssen A- x 'Zuster Merckx '68'. A daughter of the '65' out of the Oud Kweekkoppel, also from Vercammen of Beerzel with a lot of Huyskens-Van Riel in it.
A year later at a sale, Pros would (on Jef's advice) buy a son of the 'Coenen Kweker'. He would later name him his 'Coenen' with ring number 5140998-74. The 'Oude Coenen' came by his name because a fancier, a man called Coenen, had ordered some pigeons from Jef, but never came to collect them ... Pros will be forever grateful for this, because the 'Coenen' provided the real break-through to the top in Kermt. He would become the grandfather of the super crack, the '327'.
Unfortunately, the 'Coenen' escaped from an aviary at a friend's loft, with whom Pros bred his pigeons ...
A short time later, the pigeons from Vansweefelt were entered in a total sale. Pros had intended to buy a few champions, but every time he was outbid by a millionaire, Berre Everaerts, who knew the pigeons of Vansweefelt very well and also knew how well they achieved for Pros.
Of course, Pros wasn't the only one who had success with the Vansweefelt pigeons. To name a few more: Albert Everaerts, Roger Persoons, Gommaar Verbruggen, Willy Steenaerts, Maurice Vandersmissen, vet Ectors, Louis Das and many, many others.
To give an example, Gommaar acquired the 'Schilderij' (5349262-79) by way of Vlayen. The 'Schilderij' was a direct Vansweefelt, a grandson of the 'Schilderij' from Jef (a direct Vercammen), and also a grandson of the '199', one of those eight famous brothers out of the Superkoppel from Jef. At Gommaar Verbruggens the 'Schilderij' became among others father of:
- the 'Blauwe Vansweefelt 063/81', that has won several 1st Provincials.
- the 'Massis', 8th Semi-national Chateauroux and 5th National Bourges, 1st Semi-national Chateauroux against 9,245 p.
- the 'Teen', 1st Provincial Vierzon, 9th National Bourges, 9th Semi-national Chateauroux against 10,417 p., 2nd Provincial Orleans.
- and last but not least the 'Kletskop', twice 1st Provincial Orleans, 1st Provincial Blois, 1st Semi-national Chateauroux ...
It is clear that Vansweefelt had the best pigeons. And Pros Roosen had acquired several of them. He had a collection of Aces like the '327', the 'IJzeren II' and several more, all with the noble blood of the modest farmer from Tessenderlo, Jef Vansweefelt.
Jef Carlens of Zepperen
The achievements of Jef Carlens from the long-distance races made a profound impression on everyone, not only in Limburg but far outside the Dutch and Belgian borders. Jef was an eccentric man and everyone knew this, Pros included. Nevertheless, he chanced buying a coupon from Carlens for a few eggs. That was in 1972, one year before Carlens would pull off his greatest stunt by winning the 1st and 8th International Barcelona with the 'Mona Lisa' and her daughter.
The eggs were collected and the encounter with Carlens wasn't so bad after all. And Pros had what he wanted, a foot inside the door with the grandmaster of the long-distance.
After her big achievement, the 'Mona Lisa' was sold to the Japanese businessman Shimamura. This meant that there were no more descendants from her to buy. "Then it will have to be out of the daughter," Pros thought, and he bought a daughter of the '5009149-70', who by that time was named 'Fabiola' by the pigeon fancier Jean Deglin.
This youngster from the 'Fabiola' was the hen '5202983-72', who carried an old ring. She was from 1973, the year of success in Zepperen.
Pros coupled this 'Daughter Fabiola' with the 'Oude IJzeren Vansweefelt'. And he didn't regret his decision. A young hen out of this coupling won immediately 60,000 Belgian Francs in a race from Bourges and because of this Pros named her 'De Zestigduuzend'. In fact, she would become the mother of the super crack '327' and its distinguished brothers and sisters.
Believe it or not, the 'Daughter Fabiola' also escaped. This time out of the aviary of a different friend. Pros was devastated.
History repeated itself completely, and shortly after that (in 1977) the pigeons from Carlens came in a total sale as well. This time Pros was determined, the 'Fabiola' would stay in Limburg, actually in his own loft. The competition was fierce though, because every long-distance fancier in Vlaanderen had come to the sale in Hoepertingen. Even Polle Bostyn was there. But the 'Fabiola' stayed with Pros. "I had to overstretch my budget a bit," Pros admits, "because we had just moved into our new home at the Holrakker. And to be honest, I didn't have much money left at the time ..."
Jan Grondelaers of Oglabeek
One piece was still missing in the Pros Roosen puzzle: the pigeons from grandmaster Jan Grondelaers. At that time Jan surpassed anyone and everyone in the provincial races in Limburg, and had a preference for the races from Orleans.
"Jan was a completely different kind of fancier than Vansweefelt and Carlens. They were 'men of nature', while Jan planned everything meticulously. He didn't get his nickname 'sly fox' for nothing ..." muses Pros. "Jan has taught me everything I know about the finer aspects of the sport. And Jan was an expert on all aspects, buying pigeons, breeding pigeons, ensuring the health of pigeons, selecting pigeons, training and motivating pigeons ... a real grandmaster. Jan knew as nobody else that you need 'good ones', and that these are rare and don't come falling out of the sky ...
Yes, Jan Grondelaers had a nose for good pigeons ..."
On the other hand, Jan was also a shrewd businessman, and his good pigeons didn't come cheap ... Therefore Pros had to bide his time and devise a different plan to acquire Grondelaers pigeons.
In 1974 Jan won a provincial again. This time it was the 'Orleans I' that left 21,700 pigeons behind ... And now Pros was absolutely sure, he wanted to incorporate the breed of Jan in his own loft, and he bought a couple of eggs from him. These were from the 'Late van 70', a son of the world famous 'Chateauroux'. And Pros was right, because a son of the 'Late van 70' would a year later win the 2nd National Bourges for Jan ...
From 1975 on Pros brought more Grondelaers pigeons to his loft. They came out of the 'Brive', the 'IJzeren', the 'Kellens', the '3900 km', the '398', the Hofkens pigeons ...
But the most important Grondelaers influence came by way of the 'Motmansduivin' (5289872-74). Paul Motmans, a friend of Pros, had bought this hen at a sale of late youngsters from Grondelaers in 1974. She came out of the '5269481-73', the 'Late Blauwen' (son 'Dax' x 'Zuster Chateauroux'), with as a mother the '50225402-68', a daughter of the 'Kleine Kellens' with a daughter of the 'Lange' (stock pigeon at Stoces-Grondelaers).
Pros and Paul Motmans began breeding together. The Grondelaers hen was paired with the 'Oude Coenen' from Jef Vansweefelt and they became the parents of among others the 'Lokeren'.
The 'Lokeren' (5212896-76) came by its name because as a youngster it lost its way and was recovered in the city of Lokeren. He won brilliantly as yearling, and Pros consigned him to the breeding loft. Normally, Pros wouldn't do a thing like that, but this time it was an inspired move, because already in 1978 this same 'Lokeren' became the father of the super crack '327' ... Who said anything about having all the luck?
The pigeons of Jan Grondelaers gave, of course, more descendants than just the father of the '327'. There was for instance the '5335512-77', a daughter of the famous '398', who was a top champion with Jan, crossed with a sister of the 1st National Bourges, who became for Pros the mother of the 'Argenton '81', with ring number 5106747-81.
This 'Argenton' won:
1/354 Provincial Argenton with 9 minutes in the lead in 1982
23 prizes in the top 10 percent
With a prize list like this you could count yourself 'in among the cream'.
But let's now talk about the phenomenon '327' for a while.
The perfect mix
"Take 50 parts Vansweefelt, 25 parts Carlens and 25 parts Grondelaers and mix these ingredients thoroughly ..." Something like this could be the recipe to breed a crack like the '327'.
We summarize again:
- Father of the '327', its full name '5174327-78', was the so called 'Lokeren', son of the 'Oude Coenen Vansweefelt' x the 'Motmansduivin', a direct Grondelaers.
- Mother was the '60.000', daughter of the 'IJzeren Vansweefelt' x the 'Daughter Fabiola'.
By now Pros had lost two of the four grandparents, but that didn't influence matters much. The '327' raced like a world champion, and Pros still had both parents ...
At that time the '327' of Pros was more than once described as possibly the best middle-distance pigeon of all times. Judge for yourself:
To put it mildly, a super crack. And with these results he was among the Aces every year too:
1979 3rd Ace BDS
1980 4th Ace BDS
1981 3rd Ace BDS
1983 2nd Ace BDS
The Gouden Duif
But Pros had even more champions in his loft ...
Like the 'IJzeren II', with ring number 5174340-78, who won:
4/396 Provincial Argenton
4/193 Provincial Argenton
5/393 La Ferté
10/3,886 Provincial Chateauroux
With this the 'IJzeren II' became 2nd Ace BDS long-distance. The 'IJzeren II' came direct out of the 'Oude IJzeren Vansweefelt' x the 'La Souterraineke' (5144742-75), another daughter of that same '5202983-72' of 'Daughter Fabiola'. That made her a half-sister by way of the mother of the '60.000'. The 'IJzeren II' himself was a half-brother of the '60.000' by way of the father. It all stayed in the family.
And then there was the 'Blitz' (5013284-79), the pigeon whose name rather worried Jan Grondelaers...
He won among others:
1 /1,007 Bourges, 6th National against 6,024 pigeons
2/186 De Panne
13 prizes in 1982,in the top 10%.
The 'Blitz' was a half-brother of the '327' by way of the father, and with that also of the 'Lokeren'.
And like these super cracks Pros had several more, like the '310/78', the already mentioned 'Argenton' and so on. He had so many very good pigeons that he started to feel himself invincible. When the late Stan Raeymaekers explained in 1980 the rules for a new and original championship from sport magazine De Duif, Pros listened confidently and told Stan: "I am going to win that championship, I have the pigeons for it ..." And who do you think stood on the highest step of the winners podium in the very first Gouden Duif ceremony, with an enormous trophy in his hands? Correct, Pros Roosen. He still feels this is one of the high-lights of his career. A career that overflows with 'high-lights'.
When the results of the first Gouden Duif were published, Pros studied them thoroughly. It was after all not a simple championship. And one name caught his attention, the name of Jos Soontjens from Wommelgem, superstar of the speed races. Pros hadn't come across the name Soontjens before, but he needed a few fast pigeons. He gathered information about Soontjens and one day he drove all the way to Wommelgem. No, not to Soontjens, but to the competitors of Soontjens and to the club house ... And everywhere he heard the same story: "Impossible to race against, every week the first ..." So now Pros knew what kind of racer Soontjens was and he was convinced.
Back to the Gouden Duif ceremony ...
At the sale of bons, the bon from Pros was bought for 66,000 old Belgian Francs. Pros himself bought the bon from Soontjens for about 3,000 francs. After all, nobody knew the man. And he went to meet Soontjens. "Why have you bought my bon?," Soontjens asked Pros, "you are the champion and I am just a small amateur." And Soontjens was completely stunned when Pros also asked to buy a round of youngsters from him ... "You can buy the third round," Jos hesitated but he was a little honoured as well, "the other two rounds I need for myself." "If you would rear a fourth round, I would also buy that," Pros said, very determined to bring these fast devils to Kermt.
And that was the start of the world wide success story of the Soontjens pigeons.
In 1982 the first Soontjens pigeons came to the loft in Kermt. And without exception they were thrown into the deep end. And the miracle happened: immediately a Soontjens pigeon won first. A young out of the third round against 1,300 mostly older and more experienced youngsters, including those of Pros himself. "Ola," Pros thought, "that looks promising." The following week, first again. And that is how it would go on, year after year ...
Pros dominated everything and everyone in the speed races, to the point that he wasn't a welcome participant anymore, even in his own club house. The only solution was to ensure that his friends and competitors got such fast pigeons too. So he started giving away Soontjens pigeons in Kermt and beyond. "Now they all have better pigeons than I have," Pros jokes ... Men like Willy Vrancken, Robert Vernijns, Valentin Briers and Guido Rego now take pleasure in outshining Pros with his own pigeons.
Pros acquired a total of at least 200 pigeons from Soontjens, and almost without exception they were all entered in races. Only after a successful career pigeons like the 'Computer', the 'Computer II' and his son the 'Computer II junior' were consigned to the breeding loft.
To recite all the victories of these champions would go too far, because each of them won 60 to 80 prizes, up to 20 in a season ... But here is a selection of their most brilliant achievements.
We start with the 'Computer I' (6059903-82):
and so on.
His half-brother was if possible even better, this was the 'Computer II' (6580876-85).
He won 80 single prizes, of which 56 in the top 10% and 13 pure first.
The 'Computer II' classified himself in the official championships of the KBDB three years in a row.
- 2nd Ace provincial K.B.D.B. speed 1988
- 1st Ace provincial K.B.D.B. speed 1989
- 5th Ace national K.B.D.B. speed 1989
- 6th Ace provincial K.B.D.B. speed 1990
To be absolutely clear: the 'Computers' had a ring from Soontjens, but they raced from Kermt of course.
Who was Soontjens?
Jos Soontjens was a humble factory worker, but he had golden hands in dealing with pigeons. He succeeded in forming the fastest sprinters in the world out of a mix of pigeons from Verheyen, Janssen A., Verherstraeten, Gyselinckx and others.
Soontjens was unbeatable in his own district, despite the fact that he had little time for the pigeons. Jos knew that the merit of his constant winning was the quality of his pigeons, and to avoid having to compete against his own pigeons, it was near impossible for his competitors to buy pigeons from him ...
And the competitors? Actually, they thought that Soontjens gave his pigeons drugs. It just couldn't be that he had so much better pigeons. Nevertheless ... ask Pros about it. "The first time I visited Soontjens, I was touched. I had never seen anything like it, so much quality in one loft, real sprint canons. I will never forget that first impression, "wow", if you have this in your loft, I can understand why you are so good."
The 'Late Tom' was the most impressive and also the best of all. For that matter, he is the father of the Computers I and II and grandfather of the most famous Soontjens pigeons in the loft of Pros and of others: the 'Raket', the 'Hond', the 'Magic Star' and many others.
Even now the Soontjens breed are the most popular speed racers in the world. And all that began at the Gouden Duif in 1981.
The Nationaal, the Computer II Junior and other toppers!
But even the Soontjens pigeons have flaws, or at least one: their turbo uses so much fuel, that the motor sputters when the race gets too tough or too far ...
Pros has experienced it more than once: a bad release or a bridge too far and the pigeons are lost ... Up to 400 km it is child's play for them to come home and leave the rest of the field minutes behind. Even 500 km doesn't give any problems, not even with a head wind, as long as it is clear weather. But more than 500 km gets them into trouble, and more than one night in the basket is fatal. They are much too highly strung for that ... And absolutely the worst thing to do is race them with not enough food. That is asking for problems ...
But Pros wouldn't be Pros if he couldn't counteract this flaw. Didn't he still have his '327' breed? So he crossed the two breeds and succeeded extremely well. Especially a sister of the '327' and a daughter of the same '327' would come to play an important role in this. Pros coupled one of the better sons of the 'Computer I', the 'Raket' (1st Ace BDS) with the sister of the '327', ring number 5317859-82. Out of this pairing came the 'Bliksem' ('Thunderbolt') 5096102-85. His name says it all, a very fast pigeon. Pros coupled the 'Bliksem' back to his own breed, with the 'Limogeske', who won 3rd National Limoges and had twice the 'Lokeren' in her pedigree. And now he was really on a roll, because out of this pair came the 'Nationaal', that won a list of victories to be proud of.
The 'Nationaal' (5339977-90) won:
1/9,759 National Bourges
1/2,337 Orleans (fastest against 5,937 pigeons)
6/13,285 Chateauroux (1/405)
He also became a distinguished breeder and is among others the father of the 'Argenton'. Pros says about his 'Nationaal': "I think that he is the best breeder of all, but I have almost no descendants of him myself, I gave them all away ..."
The son of the 'Nationaal', the 'Argenton' (5204417-97) won among others:
1/756 Provincial Argenton
2/783 Provincial Chateauroux
9/959 Provincial La Souterraine
Pros also had a beautiful daughter of the '327', he called her his 'Schilderij' (' Oil Painting'), ring number 5090401-83. The 'Schilderij' was paired with the 'Raket' (son of 'Computer I) and out of this pairing came the 'Asduif'.
The 'Asduif' earned her name by winning the titles of 1st Ace Provincial Middle-distance 1991 and 1st Ace Middle-distance LDS-2000 1991. In total the 'Asduif' won 28 prizes from the middle-distance races in the top 10%, including:
But the 'Schilderij' did Pros really proud when he paired her with the 'Hond', a son of the 'Computer II'. They produced the 'Olympiade' (5328321-90). And this pigeon indeed went to the Olympiad in Las Palmas in 1993, in the Sport-class Middle-distance, as a result were these victories:
With this he became 1st Provincial Ace and 6th National Ace long-distance K.B.D.B.
For all that, the 'Hond' (5340010-89) went on loan to friend Jaak Koninx. And he bred his 'Magic Star' out of him, who won 1st National Ace middle-distance K.B.D.B., again with an impressive list of victories:
3/2,257 Provincial Orleans
6/889 Provincial Bourges
By now it should be unmistakable: with the combination Vansweefelt-Carlens-Grondelaers against the speed and power of Soontjes, Pros was lying on a bed of 'Roses'.
It is impossible to quote all the cracks of the eighties and nineties, but to name a few: the 'Orleans' (1st Provincial Orleans), the 'Goede Witveer', the 'Brother Magic Star' and the 'Bourgesman' (1st Provincial Bourges).
Even so, I just have to mention one other pigeon, maybe even the best of all, the 'Computer II Junior', bred by Pros himself out of his 'Computer II'. The 'Computer II Junior' equalled his father in the races and later surpassed him as a breeder. The 'Computer II Junior' (5040349-92) won a total of 84 prizes, of which 56 times in the top 10% and seven 1st prizes. More than once he returned home side by side with his famous father, but sometimes he beat his father on the sprint. The importance of the 'Computer II Junior' as a breeder can be read in part 3, the last episode in this story.
Meanwhile : The brothers Frenken from Weert, Holland.
The above could give the impression that Pros has a pigeon factory, and produces lots of pigeons, with now and again a good one among them ... Wrong, by now you should know better. Pros keeps only a dozen old pigeons and these must all have the potential to become an Ace or to win a provincial. Or stand their ground against thousands of other pigeons.
Despite the small number of pigeons that he has, Pros always tries to keep a few pigeons for the longer distances: Narbonne, Perpignan and even Barcelona. And here again, he doesn't wish to keep 36 pigeons, in the hope that one of them is a good one ... Pros explains: "There is only a chance of one in 10 million that a weak yearling will become a super old pigeon, so why should you keep that bird? Yearlings have to prove themselves immediately. Showing the correct behaviour in the loft and finishing on the first sheet of the results list. And that applies to the long-distance too. I don't believe in pigeons that can only fly a prize in a race from Barcelona. A crack must show its quality as a yearling for instance from Chateauroux. Otherwise, what are you doing ...?"
Of course, Pros had a good example in his loft with his 'Rooie Primus' (5328339-90). In 1991 this pigeon already flew prizes as a yearling from Argenton, Jarnac and La Souterraine. But how did he come by that bird?
At one time Pros decided to try acquiring pigeons from much farther away. He started to study national and international results, and this proved very informative. He asked himself: "Who has the best long-distance pigeons?". He ended up in Holland, with the brothers Harry and Jac Frenken from Weert. Pros was especially pleased with their high prize percentage, which is a guarantee for a uniform breed and an average high quality.
In the winter of 1989, Pros drove to Holland to visit the Frenkens. He inspected the pigeons and liked what he saw. One especially had his interest, a red one.
"I never wanted red pigeons," Pros Roosen admits. And he has his reasons. With red pigeons you can't see flour or oil on the flight-feathers, and worse even, red pigeons don't have a blood-band in the tail. And Pros attaches, as previously mentioned, much value to the blood-band. And yet ...
When he was with the brothers Frenken, he fell in love with a red pigeon. This pigeon, the 'NL5918239-88', hadn't really shown what it was worth yet. It just sat as a yearling between the others in the breeding loft of Harry and Jac. "And yet ... his body said it all," Pros still knows after all these years, "everything about that pigeon told me that is was a champion, a top breeder." Pros immediately ordered two rounds of young out of this red one. And believe it or not, among those was his 'Primus Inter Pares', and also a couple of good brothers who would win among others 2nd and 3rd Provincial Brive. Had it been the eye of a connoisseur, or just luck? I leave you to judge for yourself.
The red pigeon that had caught the eye of Pros, wasn't just any pigeon. He was a son of the renowned 'Rood Diamantje' from Jan Theelen. 'Rood Diamantje' was at that time already well on the way to becoming the most distinguished daughter of the 'Vale Marathon' and the world famous '10'.
When the 'Rooie Interpares' was born, the 'Rode zoon Diamantje' was coupled to a Frenken pigeon, half-sister of their 1st National Marseille. But it didn't really matter what the 'Rode zoon Diamantje' was coupled with, that was how strong a breeder he was, according to Pros.
The 'Rooie Barcelona'
The 'Rooie Barcelona' never really managed to win a 1st provincial for Pros. But over five consecutive years he finished every race in the lead-group nationally. For Pros that was enough.
1992, 438th - 11,399 pigeons
1993, 180th - 13,343 pigeons
1994, 149th - 11,214 pigeons
1995, 306st - 9,759 pigeons
1996, 830th - 10,068 pigeons.
The last year was the only time that he failed to return in the afternoon. "I was very worried when he didn't return at about his normal time," Pros explains. "Of course, I know that every pigeon can lose its way, but I had just never thought about losing such a super pigeon. So I was very much relieved when he came in at about 7.00 pm. By then I already knew that the title of Primus Inter Pares with the Barcelona Club Brugge was secured."
In 1992 and 1993 Pros entered the 'Rooie Barcelona' also in the race from Brive and Narbonne. But from 1994 on he raced exclusively from Barcelona, and here he won the highest honour that a long-distance racer can dream of: the title of most regular Barcelona-racer over five consecutive seasons.
But basically Pros wasn't a long-distance racer ... He just participated 'on the side'. Which doesn't mean that he isn't serious in participating, even with only one or two pigeons in the race ... Since 1995 he has already stood on the platform in Brugge four times at a celebration of the BBC. Once with the classification of the two years pigeons, twice with the classification of the third years pigeons, and as said before, once with the Primus Inter Pares.
These successes were the reason that Pros decided to buy the parents and the grandmother of the 'Rooie Barcelona'. For that matter, the grandmother was the by now world famous 'Gouden Diamantje' from Jan Theelen.
In part 3 we will return to the present and study how Pros built another super-team during the last five to eight years.
ColumbusMarch 23rd, 2019|The Duif Chronicles|0 Comments