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Velka Pardubicka Steeplechase

EUROPEAN JUMP RACING 2002-2016

I first started following European jump racing in 2002 and I have spent far too much of my time trawling through various European racing websites recording information. Away from the UK, Ireland, France and on a lesser scale the Czech Republic jumping has always been the poor relation to flat racing and trotting and was usually confined to the odd race on mixed cards. Sadly over the years I have seen a general decline in the number of races being run caused in part due to financial problems (Belgium and Italy) but also a gradual lack of interest and decline in runners (Germany). However jumping remains strong in Scandinavia, The Czech Republic and is on the increase in Poland. This page provides a brief overview of the state of affairs over the past fourteen years as it is time to stop and move on to other projects.

Belgium

Belgium racing fell into a financial black hole in the late nineties and the next few years saw the demise of the three Brussels racecourses, Sterrebeek and Groenendaal (which had on occasions staged jumps only fixtures) and Boitsfort (the then home of the Belgian Derby). Jumping at Ostende ceased too although only a handful of races were staged there.  Belgian jumping is now confined to the one day fixture at Waragem which is staged on the first Tuesday in September. The "Waragem Koerse" is still incredibly popular and thousands flock to the tiny racecourse for the Grand Steeplechase De Flanders and two other steeplechases and a hurdle. The fences have been modified over the years but the giant water jump, the "Gaveerbeak" and Irish Bank still take some jumping.  Field size limits were introduced in 1996 after some treacherous races which saw as may as twenty six horses line up and fatalities were becoming too common. The modifications have clearly worked and the races remain competitive and fatalities a rarity. Sadly the Brussels courses lie deserted and the destruction of the iconic, modernist grandstands at Groenendaal in 2011 means that resurrection looks unlikely. 

Grand Steeplechase De Flanders 4600m - Waregem

2002REPEREPh PeltierJ.Guiheneuf12
2003HERCULANEUMJ.RemyN.Milliere 8
2004THE TOPS.FoucherJ.Guiheneuf 9
2005GAEL D'ANGRONY.FertilletX.Hondier10
2006YALSADAME.LerayS.Porcher10
2007KAN NEJDY.FertilletH.Terrien13
2008ROYAL VERRIEPh PeltierD.Berra10
2009OCEAN D'ORE.LerayA.Blais13
2010ALPHA SPEEDJ.FollainS.Juteau10
2011ROYAL FOUP.QuintonM-A Dragon11
2012MARTALINP.QuintonJ.Zuliani11
2013MARTALINP.QuintonJ.Zuliani11
2014ROYAL FOUP.QuintonJ.Duchene 8
2015TAUPIN ROCHELAISP.QuintonTh Beaurain 14
2016TAUPIN ROCHELAISP.QuintonTh Beaurain 8


Ostende staged 10 races in 2002, 4 in 2003 & 1 in 2004. 


The Channel Islands

The most southerly racecourse in the Channel Islands is situated at Les Landes in Jersey. The racecourse which enjoys stunning views over the English Channel is just under a mile round and stages nine racedays per year starting on Easter Monday and ending with the August Bank Holiday. It is a credit to the Jersey Race Club that whilst each meeting has only five races on the card, each starts with a race over timber. The field sizes are small (six would be a considered a big field) and the same horses tend to line up against each other but a Channel Islands Champion Hurdle is staged in August.

9 races have been staged at Les Landes each year between 2002 & 2016

Germany



racecourse020304050607080910111213141516
Baden-Baden1211151515151313 - - - - - - -
Bad Harzburg121413141312 8 4 5 5 6 5 6 6 6
Bremen 9 7 6 4 3 6 3 4 4 3 3 - - 4 3
Dusseldorf - - 2 1 - - - - - - - 2 - - -
Erbach 1 1 1 1 - 1 - - - 1 - - - - -
Hamburg 3 4 5  5 4 3 5 4 4 3 3 3 - 1 1
Hannover -  - - - 6 6 6 5 3 4 - - - - -
Honzrath 1 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Hoppegarten 8 5 4 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Krefeld 2 5 5 5 3 4 4 2 1 3 4 4 3 3 2
Mannheim 6 6 5 5 5 5 5 3 4 5 5 4 4 4 4
Munich 9 8 6 7 1 - 1 1 - - - - - - -
Neuss - - - - 3 9 8 - - - - - - - -
Quackenbruck 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
Saarbrucken 4 3 2 2 - - - - - - - - - - -
Verden 2 - - - - 1 1 1 1 - - - 1 - 1
Zweibrucken 2 4 4 4 4 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2
Magdeburg staged 2 hurdle races in 2002
Lebach stages 1 hurdle between 2002 & 2005


Hungary

Whilst there is a racecourse at Alagy (which staged all racing in 2002 and most of 2003 whilst Kinscem Park was being redeveloped) which stages the occasional raceday (including a steeplechase as recently as 2005) most Hungarian racing takes place at Kinscem Park, in Budapest. Named after the most successful horse of all time, the Hungarian mare Kinscem. She was unbeaten in fifty four races between 1876 - 1878.  In a remarkable career she won in Hungary, Austria, Germany and France. She even lifted the Goodwood Cup on her sole visit to the UK in 1878. The racecourse has undergone a transformation in recent years with a vast new grandstand and a realignment of the course although I am pleased to see that the old racecourse buildings have not been demolished. The course itself is not the most attractive with an inner trotting track, dirt track and turf course where hurdle races are occasionally run. It is notable that like in Poland there seems to be an increase of interest in action over timber and 2015 saw a doubling in the number of races run. Long may this continue

Italy

The home of Italian jumping is at Merano in the Italian alps which is possibly one of the most beautiful racecourses in the word with mountains providing a stunning backdrop. They race between May and June and August and September. The highlights are the Gran Steeplechase Di Europa run in June and the Gran Corsa Siepi di Merano (champion hurdle) and the Gran Premio di Merano which are run in September. Merano also stages the countries longest cross country event in September over 6000m. All meetings take place on Sundays. They are mixed affairs and flat racing has featured more prominently in recent years. The Gran Premio is Europes most international steeplechase and regularly sees horses from France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia taking part. Away from Merano jumping is fairly sparse. The season used to start and end at Romes racecourse La Capanelle which had its own Grand Steeplechase and Champion Hurdle. Jumping ended there at the end of 2013 when the jumps course was replaced by a trotting track. To compensate for the loss Milan, which itself had stopped jumping in 2009, re-opened as a jumps course with  a new cross country course being laid. 

Italian racing has lurched from one financial crisis to the next since 2002 and industrial action has twice brought all racing in the country to a complete standstill. In order to save money racecourses have reduced the number of racing days and Merano dropped one race from each of its fixtures which in part explains the decline in the number of races. Apart from the major races field sizes are also worryingly small and the dominance of leading trainer Paolo Favero is such that it is not unusual to see him saddle all the runners in a race. The Gran Premio di Merano is still a great race and a visit remains on my racing "bucket-list" but there is not a lot else to shout about at the moment.


GRAN PREMIO DI MERANO FORST (Steeplechase) 5000m 

2002PRESENT BLEUG.Macaire (FR)B.Delo21
2003TEMPO D'ORG.Macaire (FR
B.Gicquel13
2004
MASINIC.Olehla (CZ)J.Crowley16
2005ROSENBRIEF *C von der Recke (GER)Th Steeger15
2006KOLORADOC.Olehla (CZ)D.Fuhrmann14
2007HALLING JOYP.Favero (ITY)R.Romano15
2008SHARSTARP.Favero (ITY)R.Romano13
2009SHARSTARP.Favero (ITY)R.Romano13
2010RIGOREUXG.Macaire (FR)J.Reveley12
2011CHERCHEUR D'ORG.Macaire (FR)J.Reveley15
2012RIGOREUXG.Macaire (FR)J.Ricou13
2013ALPHA TWO J.Vana (CZ)J.Vana Jnr11
2014ALPHA TWOJ.Vana (CZJ.Vana Jnr11
2015
KAZZIAP.Vovcenko (GERC.Chan14
2016






* Kolorado finished 1st & Domirone 2nd but both were disqualified for taking the wrong course after the last fence.


020304050607080910111213141516
Chilivani 6 - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Grossetto5957465046362734282721281412
Merano1211211099087876990909079828177
Milano30373326242519 - - - - 94139
Novi Ligure3232 2 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Pisa333638241716 913111919192020
Roma666466575749515555523417 - - -
Torino 
20 - - - - - - - - - - - - -  -
Treviso4947444137322028292618181818 -

Poland

It is refreshing that whilst jumping has been in terminal decline in several European countries one, Poland, has decided to reverse the trend. In 2013 Wroclaw racecourse which has the countries only steeplechase course announced that it was expanding its jumping programme and gradually the amount of jumps events have doubled. The highlight is the resurrected Wielka Wroclawska a steeplechase over 5000m which had been abandoned in 2001. This is the highlight of a two day weekend fixture held at the beginning of September. No doubt Wroclaw had been influenced by Pardubice with whom it is officially "twinned". The Czechs have pretty much dominated proceedings thus far. Hurdle races also take place at Warsaws Slusowiec racecourse (one of the most busy racecourses in Europe) and at Sopot on the coast. The leading Polish trainer is three times Velka Pardubicka winner G WW Wrobleski who is currently based in the Czech Republic. When based in Poland he enjoyed success in both Scandanavia and Italy. Poland has a vast breeding operation and Polish bred horses run with success throughout Europe, especially in the Czech Republic. The best home-trained jumper was Galerius (who is honoured with a race named after him at Wroclaw) who was pretty much unbeatable in the handful of steeplechases that were held in the early noughties when it looked like Wroclaw was phasing out jumping in favour of trotting.


020304050607080910111213141516
Sopot 1 1 1 - - - - - 1 1 - 1 1 1
Warsaw141516 6 -10 714161513 9 8 9
Wroclaw172113191310 6 7 7 610213135

Scandanavia

Norway

Despite the gallant effort of the Rune Haugen trained Trinitro who in 2000 became Scandinavia's first (and so far only) runner in the Grand National there is not too much to get excited about jumping in Norway. Hurdle races take place throughout the season and there is a Champion Hurdle staged in late September. Sadly steeplechasing was phased out after 2002 due to a lack of runners (only four contested the last Norwegian Grand National). 

Sweden

Nowhere is the European obsession with the bizarre sport of Trotting more apparent than in Sweden. There are over thirty trotting tracks in the country compared with four that stage thoroughbred racing and the number of races runs into the thousands compared to the hundreds of races run on the level. As far as jumping is concerned the numbers have been roughly the same with each year about twenty races staged. Up until May 2016 they raced at Taby racecourse on the outskirts of Stockholm where most of the steeplechases and hurdle races were staged. Taby is to be redeveloped for housing but a new racecourse forty miles form Stockholm is being built which opened just over a week later. The new Bro Park will, to the relief of jumping enthusiasts will incorporate a steeplechase course (which had looked in doubt) but it has not been opened yet. Had steeplechasing not been included at Bro Park the future of the Swedish Grand National would have been in doubt. The National together with the Swedish Champion Hurdle are run on the second weekend in June at Stromsholm racecourse. Don't try looking up Stromsholm on a map as there is no town of that name as the racecourse is situated at Vasteras (near to the airport so good for cheap flights). They only race one day a year at this very picturesque course where it has to be said it is impossible to follow the action in full. Incidentally the winner of the Grand National is awared the Topham Trophy a magnificent cup which was given to the racecourse by Mirabel Topham in 1971 when the Swedish authorities approached her about staging their own National. Gothenburg racecourse which opened in 2002 also stages hurdle races and while we wait for Bro Park to fully open to the jumping fraternity they increased their number for 2016. 

Swedish Grand National, 4600m

2002TRINITRO R.Haugen (NOR)R.Wakley 4
2003SILENT KEYST.OscarssonD.Dunsdon 6
2004CALIFORNIA SONK.SteinfendialM.Batchelor 7
2005FANTI DANCERG.Wroblewski (POL)A.Gammell 8
2006DALFORSG.Wroblewski (POL)H.Engblom 8
2007NEPTUNE JOLYM.Scudamore (UK)J O'Farrell 8
2008LIGHTS OUTD.PerssonN.Loven 8
2009GLUCKSTAGE.Schnakenberg (GER)F.Guy 9
2010LIGHTS OUTD.PerssonN.Loven 8
2011GLUCKSTAGE.Schnakenberg (GER)E.Monfort 8
2012ALANCOE.Schnakenberg (GER)C.Chan
11
2013ALANCOE.Schnakenberg (GER)C.Chan 6
2014GELONE.Schnakenberg (GER)J.Korpas 8
2015LANDLERAnna Schleusner-Fruhshep (GER)L.Sloup 9 
2016
KAZZIAP.Vovcenko (GER)C.Chan 8

 

020304050607080910111213141516
Bro Park - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Gothenburg 1 3 5 3 3 3 4 4 3 3 3 2 3 1 7
Ovrevoll10 910 8 7 9 6 7 8 9 9 9 8 8 7
Taby1814121110141316161613171518 4
Stromsholm 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 6
Blommerod also staged a steeplechase in 2016

Slovakia

Jumping in run along similar if smaller lines to its neighbour , the Czech Republic . Racing takes place between April and November and is centred on Bratislavas racecourse which is situated in the heart of the Petrzalka district which incidentally has the largest housing estate in Europe. Row upon row of tower blocks form the backdrop to this course. There is no official Grand Steeplechase but a Champion Hurdle (Prutenky Sampionov) is held in late August. Bratislava stages the lions share of jumping which normally comprises of a steeplechase and hurdle race at most of its meetings. The leading figure in Slovak jumping is Jaroslav Brecka who won the 1992 Velka on Quirinus on whom he rode in two Grand Nationals in the nineties. Brecka has been riding and training for years and still sends over horses for the big meetings at Pardubice.


020304050607080910111213141516
Bratislava201614151715171720151120151615
R.Teplice - 1 -  - - - - - - - - - - - -
Senica 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Surany 1 2 2 1 2 2 2 2 2 1 3 3 3 3 4
Topolciancy 6 5 6 5 6 5 4 8 3 3 7 - 5 5 5

Switzerland

For many the enduring image of Swiss racing is the sight of horses thundering thorough the snow on the frozen lake of St Moritz. Thanks to Racing UKs commitment to European racing some of the races are now broadcast in the UK. On three Sundays in February the fashionable ski resort is the place for the rich and beautiful to be seen - a kind of Royal Ascot on Ice. Less well known is the fact that there is a second frozen lake racecourse at Arosa where, weather permitting two meetings will be held in January and these include races over hurdles as well. After the meetings on ice the Swiss season starts in earnest in March and will run until November. Most of the racing takes place at the course at Avenches which stages mostly trotting and flat meetings (many are evening meetings) . Away from Avenches the beauty of Swiss racing is the variety. Only in Switzerland and France will you find cards offering trotting, flat racing and racing over hurdles, steeplechases and cross country obstacles. The most important steeplechase is the Gross Preis von Schweiz run at Aarrau in September. The number of jumps races has declined over the years mostly due to a reduction in the amount of jumps racing at Avenches but jumping still forms an important part of Swiss racing.

racecourse020304050607080910111213141516
Arosa 2 - - 2 2 - 2 2 2  2 - -  2 - -
Aarau151212121112121212121212121212
Avenches1411 91516 8111415 7 8 8  3 2  5
Dielsdorf1010 7 4 6 7 6 5 4 4 - 3 5 5 6
Fehraltorf 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 2  2 2
Frauenfeld 6 9 8 8 7 7 7 5 6 8 7 5 4 3 1
Lucern 3 2 - 3 2 3 2 - - - - - - - -
Maienfeld 8 8 7 8 8 9 9 910 9 5 8 7 7 8
St Moritz - - - - - - - - - - - - - 2 -

TOTAL NUMBER OF RACES 2002-2016


020304050607080910111213141516
AUSTRIA 1 - 1  2  1 
 4  1 -  -  -  -   - - - -
BELGIUM13 8 4 5 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
CHANNEL ISL  9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9  9 9
CZECH REP172129161161168168173184173175154158163150148
GERMANY767372676067584126282522182222
HUNGARY 7 5 5 5 5 - 4 3 2 5 6 3 61110
ITALY416394338288268245195220213214171173174166
NORWAY10 910 8 7 9 6 7 8 9 9 9 8 8 7
POLAND3237302513201321242223314045
SLOVAKIA282523222623242826202224242525
SWEDEN222020181620202322232023222325
SWITZERLAND605445545448514951443437353334

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