From Belgium to the World
Jos Thoné (1961) is one of the leading names in pigeon racing, both in Belgium and abroad. In 1991 he settled in As with his wife Gabriella, the youngest daughter to his father-in-law and mentor Thomas Peeters. From that year onwards, he managed to create a magnificent strain of racing pigeons, winning from sprint up to extreme long distance. The Thoné Strain is doing very well in pigeon races across the globe – from the American continent over Europe to China – and this in turn has made Jos Thoné a world-famous fancier.
Jos is known as a true all-round pigeon fancier performing consistently at the highest level on all distances. He continues to adapt his methods to the evolving sport of pigeon racing. He has successfully introduced various innovative methods and ideas, that have later been adopted by many fanciers (e.g. in-loft construction and interior installation, blackout with supplementary lighting, full-widowhood and having one pigeon winning exceptionally in five National races in the same season, etc.). Jos is just as motivated and passionate about pigeon racing as in his early days and is now passing his love for pigeons on to his sons, Maxim (1994) and Xavier (1989).
The outstanding record list of jos Thoné:
- 4x World Champion
- 6x ‘Gouden Duif’
- 5x Olympiad Pigeon
- 7x 1. National
- 2x 1. International
- 1x Overall National Champion KBDB
- 1x National Champion KBDB young birds
- 12x 1. National Champion BDS
- 14x 1. National Champion LCB
- 1x National Champion KBDB long distance, yearlings
Jos Thoné: "From the moment I could walk, I was interested in pigeons. At least, so says my father who also still races pigeons. You couldn't get me out of the lofts in the following years. I pedalled my bike like a mad man on my way home from school, to be back to the lofts as quickly as possible. I was busy with the care, feeding, releasing, anything and everything. When that was done, I was off to the basketting room to help getting the baskets ready, preparing the clocks, cleaning and any other chores. I was often the only youngster among the grown men but I didn't care. I already knew that pigeons would be a determining factor in my life and that I wanted to reach the top. It was a sort of burning passion which I can't explain."
Architecture of the lofts
Jos Thoné's lofts still are a model of creativity. You can see that everything has been thoroughly thought through. Practicality and functionality are key: nothing overdone, simply good. The philosophy behind the 60m long building and its fittings, is to produce as much as possible surface area with as little as possible unnecessary work.
The lofts are arranged in such a way that one can walk along them to the various sections. The widow hens are housed behind the widowers section. Jos designed perches for these hens that prevent eye contact. In each of the stock lofts of the cocks there is a radiator. These are not to be found by the hens. Why? "Because in my experience, the cocks are more sensitive to humidity than the hens. The hens are much more equable than the cocks in that respect. Preventing eye contact also a very important factor in preventing the hens pairing up together."
Quality from the base
It is said that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. In Jos Thoné’s racing team, there is no place for followers. Piece by piece the birds of the racing team are at first strictly selected by Jos to be tested in the races afterwards. And this is the strength of the colony of the world champion from Belgium: the quality of the whole team. Each pigeon must be capable of winning a race.
“The quality of the breeding base is the foundation for success in every loft.” – Jos Thoné
Jos gives top-priority to breeding superior pigeons: you have to breed from the best. When a fancier does not have enough quality, one has to acquire better quality from other lofts. Confidence is essential, it is confidence in the other fancier that makes the difference in the sport. The purchase of the best pigeons is not always a matter of money, but mostly it is a matter of trust in the fellow fancier.
After breeding, the offspring needs to be raced and selected. A pigeon fancier has to be patient and try different ways of breeding (e.g. pairing) in order to reach his/her goal. Jos pays a lot of attention to his breeders’ ancestries. The pigeons either need to be champions, or they have to descend from champions before they get a place in his breeding loft. But also, the handling of the pigeon needs to be 100% to his personal satisfaction. But there is still one essential point: the best pigeon does never guarantee a winning position. The real challenge lies in selecting the right pigeon for the right race, at the right time.
When Britain made a breakthrough in the international racing scene with Brian Sheppard winning the Dax International in 2003 the blood of the Thoné strain from Belgium played a significant part in that victory for the winner carried that blood in his veins. When the same loft was 2nd International from Dax the following year (2004) their bird carried the blood of the Thoné family of pigeons. Significantly both pigeons are half-brothers and the Sheppard family have seen at first hand the worth of the Thoné strain.
The Thoné Strain
Most breeding birds in Jos Thoné’s stock loft can be related to four different bloodlines. Icons of the short distance lineage are without doubt ‘Avril’ (Olympiad Pigeon, 20x 1st prize), ‘Cavendish’ (1st Provincial Acebird KBDB Speed) and ‘Kajo’ (1st Provincial Acebird KBDB Speed, 14x 1st prize). New hits are ‘Babe’ (1st National Acebird LCB, 1st Provincial Acebird KBDB Speed), ‘Sua’ (23x 1st prize) and ‘Sacha’ (7x 1st prize, half-sister to ‘Sachi’).
In the middle to long distance disciplines the following pigeons (and in the past many others) have proven their weight in gold. ‘Sachi’ (BE12-5030350) won 1st National La Souterraine of 19.155 birds (fastest La Souterraine ever and 50m head start). Her superb performance in the longer middle distance did not prevent ‘Sachi’ from procreating several winning grandchildren such as ‘Candira’ (8x 1st prize, 4th Provincial of 4.600 birds / 7th National of 4.203 birds and Olympiad Candidate), ‘Star’ (2nd of 885 birds / 4th of 1.612 birds / 5th of 1.459 birds / 12th of 1.756 birds) or ‘Storm’ (29th of 22.476 birds).
‘Sedna’ (BE04-5026055) won 1st International Narbonne of 5.870 birds, 7th Semi-National Jarnac of 5.005 birds, won 1st West-European Country Cup long distance as well as 1st National Acebird LCB and 1st Provincial Acebird KBDB. Meanwhile this ‘wonder pigeon’ is (great-)grandmother to 8x 1st National zone, 2x 1st National and 5x 1st Provincial winners. Important children of ‘Sedna’ are ‘Sendo’ (father ‘Gaggan’ as well as grandfather to ‘Babe’) or ‘Sedmos’ (breeder of no less than 5 generations of winners).
The pure marathon lineage is based on the well-known hen 'Poco Diego' (won 1st International Barcelona in 1993 and 1st National Barcelona 1995) or the line of the favorite pigeon of Jos Thoné at the time in the lofts of Thomas Peeters, namely 'Diego Armando Barcelona'! Finally, the lineage of the legendary ‘Gouden Grijs’ (BE65-3065077) is still dominating the pedigrees of the extreme long-distance pigeons. She is probably the most famous grizzle pigeon ever raced and is ancestress to ‘Kleine Molenaar’ (BE98-5075521), ‘Mooiste Reus’ (BE90-5105244) and ‘Valentino’ (BE92-5335439), father to Jos’ most recent basic marathon breeding bird ‘Crow’ (BE05-5148626). Mostly all top-class, grizzle, long-distance birds in the world have ‘Gouden Grijs’ blood running through their veins.
Nearly all top performers in Jos Thoné’s lofts can be related to one or more of the above-mentioned families and they guarantee a great chance of success.
The Thoné breeding loft consists of 50 breeding pairs, being 65% short to middle distance and the rest long to extreme long-distance pairs. The racing team consists of one loft mostly long-distance pigeons (Thoné X+M), including one group particularly for the Barcelona race. Hence, there are two lofts of short to heavy middle-distance pigeons. All birds race under the system of “full widowhood”, with exception of the Barcelona-group.