Gaby Vandenabeele - Dentergem
No one in the whole of Belgium had such a fantastic season in oneday racing as Gaby Vandenabeele. This 53 years old / book-keeper is ruling on races from 300 up until 800 kilometres week in week out.
In de province of Western Flandres the fastest fifteen birds are published on Teletext and almost every week Gaby Vandenabeele was amongst these quotations. Sometimes even with three birds!!
Racing only a hand full of birds, this achievement is by far not easy, but for Gaby it became almost an insurance, because his strain of birds proved to be the absolute top from the early eighties on.
Introducing Gaby therefor is like forcing an open door; fanciers who do not know his name are very hard to find. His strain also brought great successes to other fanciers, and made them champions all over the globe
From 1988 on, he won 62 provincial races, on National level his results were a/o:
- 1988: 1st National Bourges against 13,154 birds;
- 1995: 1st National Limoges against 8,883 birds;
- 1995: 1st National Brive against 3,970 birds, and
- in 2002 he again won National Bourges. His ‘James Bond’ (NL01-3031007) left behind 13,166 yearlings.
From such a grandmaster something can always be learned. We asked Gaby some questions.
Gaby, can you tell us how you composed your strain?
‘I build a in 1976 and started to my first birds than. The first birds to house my loft came from my dad Gentiel, in his glory years a very strong middle distance racer is the west of Flandres, one of the strongest centres of Belgium.
The birds of my father originated from famous lofts like Valere Desmet-Matthijs (Nokere, Belgium), Pol Bostijn (Moorslede, Belgium) and Lucien Verstraete (Deinze, Belgium). In my early years I participated on the races without owning any breeders for about five years. My fathers stock got the biggest share in forming by own strain.
In 1981 ‘Kleinen’ (B81-3238253) was born, I moved him to breeding loft right away. Circumstances and luck were on my side than, because what was the case? His sire, 'Zitterke' (B80-4055428), I borrowed from Jozef Delodder from Zulte, after he won a first prize from Orleans with very hot weather and the winds on his head. I had this cockbird at my disposal for a short while and unfortunately I had no good enough hen from my own stock available for this cockbird. I was lucky to get from my friendGilbert van Parijs (now loft manager for Norbert and Filip Norman, FE). He offered me to pair one of his best hens called ‘Ameyke’ (B77-3064419) to ‘Zitterke’.
‘Kleinen’ is the best breeder I ever had. He is amongst others sire to 'Picanol' (B82-3258240), best provincial acebird on middle distance 1983 and sire to 'Sissi', the number one breeding hen from Ad Schaerlaeckens. 'Fideel' (B83-3105147), a direct descendant to 'Kleinen' too, won 7 x 1st and 2nd Nat. Limoges. I was unlucky to loose this bird on Poiteirs. Another toppers is‘Wittenbuik’ (B88-3206112), a direct son to ‘Kleinen’. He already listed three provincial victories and was beaten by a loftmate once. And he appeared to be a super breeder. Especially Koen Minderhoud has phenomenal birds from the 'Wittenbuik'-lines.
1981 brought me another miracle, because in that year my 'Bijter' won 1st provincial Orleans (a real classic over here) three weeks in a row. I used him as a breeder after that and he too developed as a true champion breeder. One of his daughters is dam to 'Wittenbuik'.'
In the early eighties you were a very successful middle distance racer. Why did you set your goals in racing long distance?
‘In 1985 I was expelled for the second time, for racing too good. That made me decide to race my birds on long distance. Limoges was the race and it became a tough race with a velocity of only 1,000 meters a minute. I won 2nd and 10th National from over 6,000 birds. The birds that listed those performances were ‘Fideel’ and ‘Picanol’, both direct sons to ‘Kleinen’. I had already purchased some birds for long distance racing, as I also wanted to win on that discipline in the future. Very much to my surprise, my own bird were much better than these ‘so-called’ long distance-birds. From that day on I started to race my own strain of birds on long distance races.’
Is my conclusion that your birds can race top on every distance therefor justified?
‘I dare to say it is. This year I won 5th National on Montauban with 1,200 meters a minute. For the total distance was 780 km. I entered two birds and they both won prize cards. I also won 2nd National Narbonne, from a distance of 900 km. A good short distance racer from around bought two sons to ‘De Wittenbuik’ and raced youngsters from them with big success on Quievrain . . . 60 kilometres!’
What do you find important in selecting your birds?
‘Birds that win a 1st prize on a race with 1,800 meters a minute velocity, do not make me enthusiastic. With such a velocity every bird can win a 1st prize. The good birds win top prizes with head-winds.
About ten years ago I had a bird, that won 3 x 1st on 300 km races with 1,800 meters a minute. But when the distances grew bigger and races were getting heavier, he always came in late . . . I removed him from my loft.
I must say, not all birds are capable of racing oneday long distance. The Antwerp Union is world-famous in pigeonsport. They probably own the best bird for races up until 400 km, but if you are looking for 500-600 km birds, I think this is not the place to be. Because after 400 km they are out of fuel. In Western Flandres we race long distance every week. They are trained on this . . and tested!
When I look for birds to strengthen my loft, I usually buy birds based on my own bloodlines. Last year the best young acebird long distance and best acebird middle distance in the Western Flandres were 50% Vandenabeeles. I bought them both. My biggest concurrence is racing my birds and I am pretty proud at that.
No, I really don’t go to big names from the past. They have had their glory times, but times change. It is not interesting to hear if a super crack still descends from the old Stichelbout or Cattrysse strain.'
Must a bird have certain outer characteristics according to you, or do you only base your judgement on results?
‘The results are most important to me, but I want a bird to have a good wing and soft plumes. When the wing is opened, the last four pinions should almost stand in one line. I prefer narrow, lightly rounded and supple feathers.’
Do you believe in the eye-theory?
‘Once I almost believed in it. Until a selector visited me and gave all my best birds the worst grades. I asked him to come back three later and I gave him the same birds to judge again. This time the same birds got a much higher grade. I showed him the results of a few days earlier and asked him for an explanation. He answered me it had to do with the condition of the bird, the situation of the light and I thought to myself . . . ‘what a nonsense!’. I also showed him one of my best birds and this bird was awarded with a very high grade. His sire and dam however got a much lower grade. How can you depend on something like that??'