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The season on the long distance 2007 has been unpredictable, hard and quite wearing. Not many pigeon fanciers managed to stand out on the afternoon-releases during the entire season. And on the morning-releases (of the ZLU) this tends to be even more difficult. And when can we call something ‘standing out’? Winning many early prizes on a lot of races, or scoring high prize percentages?
For most ZLU-championships it is essential that the nominated pigeons are classified on a series of races, these are 1 out of 2, 2 out of 2, 3 out of 4 or 5 out of 5 of the top pigeons in the list. And especially the early prizes with these nominated are important. Arjan Klijs from Rucphen kept his best pigeons in reserve for the ZLU races this season. This with the intention of competing for the highest honors in the ZLU-championships. After the season he managed to score very nicely, especially with the nominated pigeons, but expectations were that certain fanciers from the Dutch province Limburg would have even better papers.
There was much joyful surprise when the ZLU-periodical was delivered. The name Klijs-Blom was mentioned as winner of the championships ‘ZLU-fondchampion’ and the ‘Super Prestige ZLU’! And in the ‘Pyreneën Cup’, Klijs-Blim manages to get the silver, after H. melis from Westkapelle. With winning gold two times and silver once, the couple Arjan and Marieke Klijs-Blom belong to the biggest stars of the ZLU season 2007. 2005 was another great ZLU year, with a 3rd place in the National marathon and a 12th place with WESM. In recent years, excellent results were also achieved in the own department Brabant 2000, where the five afternoon-releases count. A high point was the 2nd prize Bergerac (7370 pigeons) in 2004 with a pigeon that was clocked in the neutralization-time. In 2005, the 1st nominated championship of the FBZ was won. A series of very strong distance flyers of mostly the female gender have managed to win the most important prizes in 2007 and they weren’t even ready for their biggest challenge.
On the loft in Rucphen there is however only one captain that has control, and that is Arjan Klijs himself. Only in rare cases will wife Marleen or father Jan assist when Arjan is not around, but otherwise he takes care of and arranges everything. And in Rucphen, because of the increasing amount of meters of the loft, the race-team has also increased in size. About 30 widowers and as much widows are used in the races. The nestteam consists of around 50 couples, of which the hens are the focus in the long distance races, and they are most often coupled with yearling cocks. A different, small team with late younglings is being grouped together with the old ones, and they are in a different branch where they can do whatever they want. After half of december they receive extensive trained, 20 times no less, and then join in the old bird races. In 2007, these late ones have joined in up and until Montluçon. The late youngsters are being bred out of the best racepigeons. On the harsh Pithiviers on the 19th of may, Klijs-Blom had basketed 160 pigeons and only two stayed behind in that race, the loss percentage being much higher with other players.
The colony Klijs-Blom is basically built up with the pigeons from óne fancier and that is Anton van Haaren from Heesh, in East-Brabant. Through tree-plantation owner Ad van Aart from Oudenbosch, who was a fancier at that time, Arjan came into contact with Anton van Haaren. Both fanciers had show/exhibition-pigeons. In Heesch several trees had to be trimmed that were too close to the family home, and Arjan did this himself. As a return favour, long distance pigeons were sent to Rucphen. Afterwards, Arjan did more work for Anton van Haaren and the two men built up a friendship. Anton van Heeren quit being active with his pigeons in 2001 and in early januari 2002 they were sold. Before the very best pigeons would permanently leave Heesch, Arjan received several of their eggs. Anton van Haaren had himself been very successful on the long distance and famous for his series of prizes from the national midday-releases. He had a superb winner on Barcelona with ‘Donkere Barcelona’ from 1991, who has the legendary 1982 ‘50’ as grandfather. This great pigeon went to First Prize Pigeons after the sale. The foundations in Heesch were built partly on pigeons from Jef van Wanrooy (Broekhuizenvorst), whose colony was bought in its entirety by Anton van Haaren in 1971, after his passing away. A few years later, these were all sold to Jo Hendriks and Klaas Oosterhof.
Besides the pigeons from Anton van Haaren, the 36-year old Arjan Klijs also incorporated pigeons from Piet Lazeroms from Zegge, but whose breeding results were not succesful. The 2007 race-team is almost devoid of Lazeroms-blood now.
For the title ‘ZLU-fondchampion’, the two nominated pigeons in all the zeven races count. That means a maximum of 14 scores and in Rucphen 11 scores were made. On the race Pau, Barcelona, Bordeaux old and Narbonnes both nominated won prizes, and on the other three races one nominated. And with 7375 points total, the average per prize pigeon was 670 points, quite impressive. Follow-up ‘ZLU-fondchampions’ with 10 prizes were H. Proenings (Landgraaf), Klip&Verhagen (Rotterdam) and P. de Vogel (Oude Tonge). H. Melis came in 5th with 9 prizes and 6502 points.
The ‘Super Prestige’ has also been challenged over the next seven ZLU-race and in this championships, the three best results of four nominated count. That means a maximum of 21 scores over 28 possibilities. In Rucphen, 17 scores worth 11.087 points were acquired. A hundred percent score of three prize-winning pigeons on Pau, Barcelona and Narbonne. On the other four races, 2 out of 4 nominated pigeons scored. The average was again very high; 652 for every winning prize-pigeon. 17 prizes were also won by H. Wijnands and son (Maastricht), but they scored a little lower with 9.677 points. Three runner-ups with 16 prizes were P. Solleveld and Paloma (Maasdijk), P. Hendriks and son (Eys) and Fr. Sliedregt (Langeweg).
In the ‘Pyreneeën Cup’ four fanciers managed to gather 11 prizes and the winner was H. Melis with 8526 points. The combination Klijs-Blom grabbed the silver with 8155 points and they were followed by the brothers v.d. Weert (Meerssen) with 7667 points and P. de Jong and son (de Heen) with 6904 points. C. de Heijde (Made) came in fifth with 10 prizes and 8603 points. The Pyreneeën cup is being flown over the races Pau, Barcelona, Tarbes, Narbonne and Perpignan and in 2007 across 4 races. The two nominated count, plus the first clocked pigeon. In 2007, a maximum score of 12 prizes was possible. And only the 2nd-nominated in Rucphen missed on Perpignan.
On the afternoon-release St. Vincent, Arjan basketed a top racer as 1st-nominated; the NL02-0235119. This race counts towards the National Marathon and as such it could use a nominated pigeon with good potential. She flew the 1567th national against 13.347 pigeons. Excellent results came in 2005 and 2006 on that race with 116th and 22nd prizes in sector south. From 2004 up and until 2006 she flew the midday-release Bergerac in her own department Brabant 2000 with scores 218, 247 and 171. For her second race she participated in 2007 Narbonne and as 3rd-nominated she didn’t win a prize.
A remarkable pigeon in 2007 has been the NL05-0549655.She flew prizes four times; Bordeaux midday-release, Bordeaux ZLU, Irun and Perpignan. This widow hen ended with the 52nd Irun and 174th Perpignan, and of these races she was the 1st and 2nd in Rucphen.
With the ZLU, Arjan Klijs managed to win a race with the hens two years ago. The NL03-0342715 won against 656 hens. In the general competition she won 11th prize against 2992 pigeons. On that race, she was the 1st pigeon of the Western side of the country, mostly pigeons from Limburg were ahead of her. After that Narbonne she hasn’t flown again.
During the season, all widowers and nesting-pigeons train one hour with the flag every morning. After half past four in the afternoon they train for another hour, and afterwards there is time for the widow-hens and the team of late youngsters. During the day, the young pigeons have time for themselves. At the end of march there are couplings and after 14 days all the eggs are removed. The widowers get coupled again on the 3rd week of april and became widowers in the first week of May. The nest hens are coupled in a way that they can be basketed with small youngsters on a large distance race and will have their first nest by that time. On widowhood the nestpigeons are trained.
The evening before a race, the nestingpigeons will be trained from Achtmaal to, in Arjan’s words, give them extra drive. Cleaning isn’t considered very important in Rucphen. The floor is covered with birch-scraps and the bowls are cleaned now and then. There is one great cleaning once a year in february. Arjan thinks it is more important to be active with the pigeons themselves than walk around with cleaning materials all the time. For medical issues he turns to Belgica-de Weerd in Breda, where he can contact Jan van Wanrooij who takes care of different issues if that’s needed.
The little town of Rucphen is located east of Roosendaal and is the capital of the municipality of the same name. St. Willebrord, Sprundel, Schijf and Zegge all belong to this municipality as well. It houses 22.000 people in total and the city St. Willebrord is largest with 9.000 inhabitants. Arjan and Marleen Klijs are members of the p.v. Steeds Sneller (‘Keep on going faster’) in Rucphen. In this club, brothers van Peer and Rob Roks also play long distance, and Rob Roks aims to perform as well as possible on all distances.
With the breeders on the property of father Jan Klijs, the breeding starts in december and the earliest younglings will be played every week up and until Orléans. The lofts are all built from the ground up. There are lofts facing three wind directions and the largest one faces east, where the most nesting pigeons and widowers stay. Marleen Klijs-Blom works on the Middelbare Tuinbouwschool in Breda, her greatest hobby is her horse. Arjan earns a living working with a keeper of dressagehorses, and taking them to many competitions.
For the ZLU-races, Arjan Klijs baskets with p.v. de Postduif in Wernhout, who have a very good reputation. On the ZLU-races, the fanciers that basket there score rather nicely, as the prizes in the centre are obtained faster than in the national competition.
Wernhout applies a different final score combined with two other centres on the ZLU-races, being Hoogerheide and Terneuzen. In Wernhout itself and in this grouped combination, Arjan Klijs has won several championships during 2007 that, for him, do not have to be rewarded with a cup or plaque. According to him, aspigeons are the most beautiful champions in the whole of pigeonsport and he has asked the ZLU if they can give more detailed classifications of the aspigeons from 3, 4 and 5 years earlier than only the winning pigeon. He is curious to know who else has great pigeons apart from the winner, and the ZLU in return promised to offer more detailed results which their computer systems can provide easily.
Another recent loftchampion Long Distance of Brabant 2000 lives in the municipality of Rucphen. This is Cees Luijkx from Sint Willebrord with the 4 best results on 5 races, according to the NPO-system. Nationally he is crowned as the 7th best fancier over three national afternoon-releases. Cees Luijkx and Arjan Klijs are good friends.
text and photo's: Ad van Gils
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