Lessons from a champion

With champion racer Koert Grobler having retired from the sport – for now – it’s an apt time to review his achievements and see what advice he has for us, says Thomas Smit.

Koert Grobler, a champion fancier holding a bird from the Spritzy line that in part became his foundation stock.
Photo: Courtesy of Koert Grobler

Due to other commitments, champion pigeon fancier Koert Grobler auctioned off his superstars in November this year, saying goodbye to the sport for now. Koert was introduced to pigeon racing in primary school by a teacher who used to race pigeons. More recently, he’s participated in the Noordheuwel Pigeon Club, one of seven clubs that compete under the banner of the West Rand Racing Pigeon Association (WRRPA).The association has about 140 members, who enter an average of 1 600 pigeons per race on Saturdays.

Highlights
Some of Koert’s performance highlights include:

  • 2007, WRRPA: Owned 11 of the top 50 pigeons in the union, including the champion and runner-up – SA GRPA 04 5033 (granddaughter of Blue Spritzy and 8632) and WRPU 06 ZAD 066 (Catrysse) respectively.
  • 2008, WRRPA: Second and third overall union champions – WRPU ZA 06 3843 (granddaughter of Brahman) and WRPU ZAD 73 (grandson of Brahman); first and second place in Old Bird Club’s Sales Race with ZA WRPU D 088 (granddaughter of Brahman), with a winning margin of 15 minutes, and ZA WRPU 06 3551.
  • 2009, Noordheuwel Pigeon CKlub: First and second place in Old Bird Sales Race with ZA 07 55132 (grandson of Blue Spritzy) and ZA 07 67907 (granddaughter of Blue Spritzy).
  • 2010, WRRPA: Owned the union champion, ZA 09 25744. 

Foundations
Of the prolific Blue Bar Pied cock Brahman (TRPF 93 7551), bred from the Blue Pied cock J&B (SA TRPF 3829) and the famous Spritzy (SA 90 103437), Koert has this to say: “Brahman is a well-known pigeon and needs very little further introduction. Besides breeding winners for me, it also bred winners for Peter Schoeman, Johan Schmidt and Stear Painter. Just like its sire, Brahman is a double winner.

“What makes it so special is that it is able to transmit its extraordinary breeding powers to its progeny. Its grandchildren have not only won club and sales races, but also champion and ace pigeon awards at club and union level. “Brahman’s children have become foundation breeders for many fanciers, while many more have scored with its offspring.

“Brahman was rated by the late Piet Schoeman as the best his dam Spritzy has ever produced. Spritzy is the sister of super pigeons such as Rocky, Blou Bul, Blue Spritzy and Golden Eggs. It also bred achievers such as TRPF 12650 and SA 96 TRPF 10059.” Blue Spritzy (THU 99 SA 17561), named after its mother, is Koert’s second foundation cock. “It’s from the Spritzy family, of course, and inherited all the right genes, giving me nine winners in three seasons,” he says.

“Of these, one is a three-time winner and two are double winners. All of Blue Spritzy’s babies fly like stars and have brought in more than R80 000 in sales money. Direct and indirect winners out of this cock are too many to list.”

Top tips
Koert says he used line- and inbreeding for stock, and cross- and line-breeding for racing. He says he would home train his race team every day for at least 30 minutes, with a short road training flight of between 30km and 50km. On weekends, the pigeons not entered into a race would be road trained from Kroonstad (180km). His ideal pigeon loft would have enough fresh air, sun and be dry at all times. There must be no draughts or dust and the loft must not be too cold.

“The pigeons must have a love for their home and their owner. They must feel safe there,” says Koert. His other tips include:

  • Breed better every year!
  • Use strict selection.
  • Only keep the super stars, even if it’s one or two pigeons. Rather keep 10 brilliant/healthy birds than 100 sick/average birds.
  • Learn from your mistakes. Document everything you do with your birds on a daily basis.
  • Care for your birds 365 days a year. 

Finally, says Koert, know what’s happening in your loft. And learn from the champions.

Contact Thomas Smit on 011 680 4778 or at [email protected]. Please state ‘Pigeons’ in the subject line of your email.