The R5 million racing pigeon

Golden Prince, currently the most expensive pigeon in the world, is owned by two South African fanciers.

Golden Prince: The R5 million racing pigeon
Mark Kitchenbrand showing Golden Prince, the racing pigeon he bought with Samuel Mbiza for R5 million.
Photo: Courtesy of Thomas Smit

On 4 March, two South African pigeon fanciers paid a record price of €360 000 (about R5 million) for the handsome blue bar cock, Golden Prince.

The best long-distance champion pigeon in Belgium’s history, it was auctioned by Gino Clicque, a Belgian pigeon breeder and West Flanders Belgian champion, in association with PIPA, an online pigeon auction site.

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The nail-biting bidding scuffle lasted 12 days, and included fanciers and breeders from several countries. The eventual winners were Samuel Mbiza and Mark Kitchenbrand.

Meet the buyers
Mark made headlines in 2008 when he paid R800 000 for Birdy, the most expensive local and best-performing pigeon in the 21 years of South Africa’s Million Dollar Pigeon Race.

Mark and his older brothers, Kevin and Bill, belong to one of South Africa’s oldest pigeon racing families. Their late father, WP Kitchenbrand, was a champion fancier in Virginia in the Free State in 1966.

Their grandfather served in the pigeon corps during the Second World War, and their uncles, Ivan and Les Kitchenbrand, were legends in the sport.

The family races as Kitchenbrand’s Loft and belongs to the Transvaal Racing Pigeon Federation (TRPF) and the Transvaal Homing Union. In the 2007 season, Mark, Kevin and Bill all scored within the top 10 champion positions in the TRPF.

Between 2008 and 2016, Mark scored four firsts and four seconds in the TRPF first-bird-to-count points league average.

Soon after he bought the Sudhoff Van Beers loft in Germany, it was named that country’s champion loft, with various record scores in different categories.

In the Netherlands, Mark partnered with Geert Munnik, and their pigeons were crowned short-, middle- and long-distance and overall points league champions.

In 2011, Kitchenbrand Lofts won the SA Million Dollar Pigeon Race in partnership with Alfons Klaas. Based in Walkerville, Gauteng, Samuel owns Samuel Lofts, a state-of-the-art ‘pigeon palace’. A passionate newcomer to the sport, he wants to involve more young people in pigeon racing.

The future for Golden Prince
Golden Prince is not only the best long-distance champion in Belgium; he also has an impressive lineage with excellent genetics, which means that his progeny will attract eager buyers.

For now, he will remain at the PIPA Elite Breeding Centre in Belgium, but Mark and Samuel will make his first four offspring available in South Africa.

Thomas Smit is a racing pigeon selector, and a freelance journalist and writer.