Dolf and Ruud Bakker
Stubbornly on their way to reaching the top
Father and son Dolf and Ruud Bakker have performed very strongly in racing for several years, but this season everything just seems to have fallen into place and they keep getting one top result after the other. To find out how and why they have achieved their extraordinary results, one Wednesday afternoon, I drove out to the confectionery wholesalers from which father and son make a living: Dolf as owner/manager and Ruud as sales representative. Their pigeon racing lofts are just behind their company buildings, while son Ruud has now also set up a new loft behind his new home. The first young birds are now housed there and Ruud will race there in future, but he will also keep working with his father. Both are well aware that they are destined to achieve top performances together.
In the early nineties, Dolf and Ruud got involved in pigeon racing only to give it up again about ten years ago because of their high workload in the company. Then, shortly after a club member—who, as an international lorry driver, was often away from home—suggested racing together, Dolf offered another solution: Ruud could be his loft keeper. This proved an excellent solution for all parties involved, the only disadvantage being that Ruud was so excited that school often fell by the wayside. When that club member decided to quit the sport altogether the following year, Ruud wanted to continue and Dolf was persuaded to change his mind. The lofts—with the pigeons in them—were moved in a big truck to the Bakkers’ company premises and from that moment on, father and son have raced together from the lofts behind their business.
95% of Dolf and Ruud’s current colony is based on Gerard Koopman’s pigeons. There are as many as 16 direct Koopman pairs in father and son Bakker’s breeding loft. Given their success, it’s no wonder that Dolf and Ruud are particularly impressed by the pigeons that they bought from Gerard, and as well as that, they like talking about the friendship that they have developed with the whole Koopman team, including Gerard, his sister Annie , André Leideman and Kjeld Spithoven. The whole Koopman team, which Dolf frequently refers to as ‘the North’ during our conversation, don’t just provide advice and practical support to father and son Bakker, but also know how to enjoy other things in life with the Bakkers. For example, last season, Ruud and Kjeld went to see an Ajax match together.
Father and son Bakker raced the old pigeons on total widowhood and the young pigeons using the door system. Dolf and Ruud are fully focused on the NPO races and put all their energies into these flights. So old birds on short distance are not raced in the division, but are brought away themselves or basketed in Brabant before Pommeroeul. Neither are the youngsters raced with the division, but are often brought away themselves to St. Job in Belgium. The old birds—both cocks and hens—are only raced once every two weeks. In the intervening week, the hens are taken away, while the males have complete rest. The pigeons don’t see each other during taming – the sexes are only allowed to meet before the flights in which Dolf and Ruud really want to excel. Last season, the birds came together for the first time before the basketing at Breteuil. Ruud wanted to wait one more flight until the next NPO flight, but Dolf was worried that the yearlings would not have understood the game by then. But they seem to have got the hang of it quickly, because Breteuil was a resounding success.
As mentioned, Breteuil was a great success, with 44 pigeons from the Bakker father and son team winning 32 awards, including nine in the ratio 1:100 and as many as fifteen in the first 300. Then the pigeons were basketed at four NPO one-day long distance races. Salbris was a disappointment, but then they hit the jackpot three times, with four teletext listings. They only just missed victory twice in Division 7.
Division 7 Breteuil 20, against 797 p. 4-21-24-136-137-138-142-151-184-211, etc. (32/44)
NPO Bourges 7. against 356 p. 2-26-63-86-143-189-416-418-419-540, etc. (18/39)
NPO Blois against 8482 p. 2-31-76-153-253-410-587-627-633-777, etc. (15/37)
NPO Tours against 5812 p. 7-10-23-46-87-93-136-270-407-408-419, etc. (21/34)
There was no more basketing at NPO Chateauroux because the pigeons—who were neither darkened nor lit—were too far into the moulting process.
And for the youngsters too, everything will soon be focused on the NPO races. This father-son team isn’t too interested in championships though; they are fully focused onteletextlistings.
During the celebration of The Best of The Best last spring, Dolf and Ruud got chatting with Dick de Leeuw, the Beyers’ Dutch representative. Following this conversation, Dolf and Ruud decided to take the risk and to switch over to the Belgian firm’s mix from their previous method of combining mixtures from different feed manufacturers, just before the season began. In consultation with Dick, a feeding schedule was prepared using three mixtures: Premium Vandenabeele, Premium Widowhood Super and Premium Koopman. The youngsters have a similar schedule, except that the Widowhood Super is replaced by Premium Young Pigeons Olympiade.
Dolf and Ruud’s sporting future looks bright. The collection of Koopman pigeons in their lofts is, in my opinion, the best I have seen to date outside of Ermerveen. Their son of ‘Lorris’’ is an exceptional pigeon. And besides, they know perfectly well what they are doing and sacrifice a lot to achieve their goals. Add to this the fact that they get support from Team Koopman when needed, and the only question that remains is whether future competition will have to contend with one or two strong Bakker lofts in Veenendaal, if Ruud also gets the pigeons in his new lofts going.