THE DELBAR STRAIN
To do a series of articles about great strains of racing pigeons of the past, the present and potentially of the future and not refer to the strain of Delbar would condemn me as being an original sinner. And why? Because this strain has fired the imaginations of countless fanciers throughout the world who have raced and been successful with representatives of the Delbar family. Even today the strain is the number one family of pigeons in the vast country of China, a region where the sport apparently is on the up and up with an increase of approximately 50,000 new members each year. In fact there is a national association of Delbar fanciers throughout the Chinese mainland, a situation not envisaged by the Delbar family of the small town of Ronse in Belgium when they first became participants in the sport before the world experienced the horrors of the First World War.
The Delbar strain's name today derives mainly from Maurice Delbar who succeeded a famous father Oscar in the sport and even before the carnage of the First World War the name was a noted one amongst the European pigeon racing fraternity. This family of pigeons had reaped numerous wins at distances of between 400 and 700 miles and after the wars end the family went unto further glory, especially throughout the period of approximately 20 years- 1919 until 1939. A key factor of their success was the crossing of some birds into the family from a Mr. De Peeter's loft from Puttee not far from Mechelin. Thus lay the basis of the strain: the pre- war Delbar family and the post- war input from the Peeter's. It must be stated, however, that the crosses into the Delbar's were few at this time. However, upon its arrival, the strain took the pigeon-racing world by storm and success flourished not only for the master himself but also for hundreds of disciples from throughout the whole of pigeondom. In fact in my childhood and youth I heard only of the Delbar's, the Hansenne's and the Putman's in that order as being the major sources of pigeon racing success.
In 1937 Delbar won the Barcelona marathon and approximately 10 years later, 1948, the Barcelona race was won by a 100% Delbar raced by the famous Berlengee. Numerous other fanciers throughout the planet won other distance, and indeed shorter races, too numerous to mention but the whole phenomenon reflected the impact of this unique strain on the world pigeon racing community. In fact the Berlangee win led to the coining of the phrase- 'the Berlangee Delbar grizzles' but in reality Delbar had grizzles in his family long before this. One of his greatest pigeons called the Little Chequer, Which had won two Belgium nationals and also had a 2nd, a 3rd, a 4th and a 10th national to its credit, Was paired to a grizzle, which Delbar purchased from a fancier who lived in his locality. The latter pair bred winners and racers for Delbar and many other fanciers. Inspite of much searching, I have failed to discover
the name of the local fancier.
We should also acknowledge that the Jan Aarden dynasty was based upon a number of Delbar pigeons among others and that the Delbar strain has influenced other modern pigeon racing strains such as the Jos Thone's. In fact Piet de Weerd had supplied Aarden with a Delbar which lay at the base of the latter's strain. As for the successful grizzles of the Thone strain, some contained Delbar genes. One of the many successful areas of the Delbar strain was in Germany and (on one focus) Thomas Peeters at a distance of over 560 miles won 1st national St. Vincent twice with the same pigeon.
This famous cock was born in 1970 and apparently derived from a Delbar grizzle hen known as the Golden Grizzle. A grand son of the Golden Grizzle, which carried the reputation as one of the best breeding hens ever, in 1977, was 1st National Ace Pigeon long distance and also 3rd National Ace Pigeon long distance in the hot bed of German long- distance racing. And it is reported today via the Internet, etc., that the Delbar grizzles are still winning within Germany National prizes, especially from Marseilles and Barcelona. Delbar eventually brought in many crosses but his strain through his husbandry remained phenotypical and it was a strain that many fanciers could identify very accurately as being the work of the artist of Ronse. In truth it is a strain of which myths are spun and occupies in the fancy a honourable position amongst the greatest.