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Velka Pardubicka Steeplechase

The Czech Racing Season

Horse racing in the Czech Republic is not a winter sport and the season usually starts at the beginning of April and ends sometime in November. Racing takes place mostly at weekends and there is usually one meeting on a Saturday and one on Sunday. It is very rare that there will be two meetings staged on the same day. They will also race on the occasional public holiday.


Racing at Pardubice


Pardubice stages ten days sport a year and nine are all jumps affairs. They race over the famous cross country course and over conventional steeplechases which are run on an oval track opened in 1994. Mixed meetings have never really worked at Pardubice and flat racing (introduced in 1995) which used to take place on the eve of the Velka has all but been scrapped (just one event scheduled in 2018). Apart from the Velka they race mostly on Saturdays to allow the top jockeys to ride in Italy on Sundays. The season is geared up to the Velka with the four qualifiers staged throughout the season in May, June, August and September. The Gold Cup, the premier conventional steeplechase is run in early June.

The Velka Qualifiers

After the fences were modified in 1993 qualifiers for the Velka were introduced in 1994. The aim was to provide potential runners with the opportunity of gaining valuable experience over the unique course. The races are run over a distance of 5800m and share the same start as the Velka with most of the fences with the exception of the Taxis (a smaller hedge adjacent to the Taxis is jumped instead) and fences twelve-fourteen (Poplars rails) are omitted. The aim is simple, to qualify for the Velka you have to complete the course. The four qualifiers are categorised as National Listed races which is the second highest status for a Jumps event in the Czech Republic (only the Velka, Gold Cup and the Labe Prize which is run as the race before the Velka are graded higher). The May and June races carry more status whilst the September race has sometimes been a rather uncompetetive affair in years where most of the leading fancies have already qualified. It is not unusual for six years olds (who have been ineligible to run in the Velka) to win. Whilst there are (I believe) now other methods of qualification, completing the course in a qualifier is the traditional method for Czech and Slovak horses. The form in these races though, should be treated with some caution. As qualifying is the main aim some of the runners take part with that in mind and whilst the finishes are usually closely fought out affairs watching a well thought of Velka contender hacking round in rear is not an uncommon sight. Despite this winning a qualifier will have the effect of laying down a marker for the big one and judging by the reaction of winning jockeys as they pass the post these are races they want to win.

Listing every winner of each qualifier would perhaps be too much information so instead are some stats about them

VELKA WINNERS WHO WON A QUALIFIER IN THE SAME YEAR

2003 - REGISTANA (won June qualifier)
2004 - REGISTANA (won June qualifier)
2006 - DECENT FELLOW (won June qualifier)
2007 - SIXTEEN (won August qualifier)
2011 - TIUMEN (won August qualifier)
2014 - ORPHEE DES BLINS (won September qualifier)
2016 - CHARME LOOK (won August qualifier)
*Amant Gris who finished first past the post but was disqualified in 2008 won that years May qualifier

VELKA WINNERS WHO HAVE WON QUALIFIERS

REGISTANA (won the June qualifier four times between 2002 & 2005)
DECENT FELLOW (also won June qualifier in 2007 & August qualifier in 2003)
SIXTEEN (also won August qualifier in 2009)
CHARME LOOK  (also won August qualifier in 2017)
*Nikas who finished first past the post but was disqualified in 2015 won the May qualifier in 2014

RECORD OF WINNERS IN EACH QUALIFIER 2002-19 (N- denotes didn't run)

020304050607080910111213141516171819
May002NuN1D04N0Nu3N4
JuneN11f12N0uN0u020N
AugN3p0u132010u041p
SepNNfuNNNNu32N1NNp

HORSES - MOST WINS 

5 - TREZOR (May 2012, June 2013-14, August 2012-13)
4 - REGISTANA (June 2002-05)
3 - DECENT FELLOW (June 2006-07, August 2003)
3 - HASTAVEN (August 2004 & 2006, September 2005)
2 - BREMEN PLAN (May 2013, June 2010)
2 - KASIM (May 2016, August 2014)
2 - MONING LET (June 2008, September 2007)
2 - RETRIEVER (May 2004-05)
2 - VALLDEMOSO (September 2010-11)
2 - ZARIF (May 2017, June 2015)

Jockeys - ridden most qualifier winners

10 - Josef Bartos
 9 -  Jan Faltejesek
 7 -  Jaroslav Myska
 5 -  Josef Vana
 4 -  Dusan Andres

Josef Vana has trained 16 winners, the next best is Cestmir Olehla with 12

Other Racecourses

Whilst this website is primarily interested in the Velka Pardubicka and racing at Pardubice the Czech Republic has a lot to offer the racing enthusiast. There are ten other racecourses all offering some form of jumping on their programme

BRNO

Three days sport with meetings in April, May and  September over a figure of eight course which is close to the airport. Tragically Michal Kohl was a rare jockey fatality following a fall here in September 2015

KARLOVY VARY

Well worth a visit for the ornate grandstands but not of much interest to jumping enthusiasts since 2002 when they dug up the cross country course to make room for a golf course. The occasional steeplechase is run over portable fences that are attached to the running rail and folded away after use. Seven meetings scheduled between April and September and since 2016 this is the new venue for the Czech Oaks.

KOLESA

Three meetings between April and November and since 2013 they have brought the curtain down on the Czech season. Only racecourse in the Czech Republic with a water splash

LYSA NAD LABEM

Traditionally starts the Czech jumps season with its premier steeplechase, the First of May Steeplechase. In recent years other racecourses have had that honour but for the purists things start to get interesting when Lysa races in May. Three meetings scheduled in 2017 between April and July. 

MIMON

Possibly the least prestigious course in the Czech Republic.The fields are small, the ground rock hard and the facilities sparse. No racing staged between 2012 & 2014 but they have revamped their steeplechase course. Opened the season for the first time in 2017 and will be staging four days sport, the most in its history.

MOST

A feat of Czech engineering the racecourse was built on the site of a former open cast mine. Opened in 1997 and used to stage  the Czech Oaks in late July (until 2015) together with its premier steeplechase, the Velka Mostecka run over 4500m which regularly attracts some of the top Czech chasers. Seven days sport between May & November.

NETOLICE 

Just one days sport in August with it`s own Velka. 

SLUSOVICE

The only racecourse in the eastern province of Moravia the course was opened during the eighties and used to stage lots of meetings. It  suffered leans times of late in part due to land restitution claims dating back to the second world war however, its premier steeplechase the Velka Slusovicka has recently been revived and is a late season highlight. 

SVETLA HORA

Stages a one day jumps only fixture a year in the summer. The fields are small but the quality is good.

VELKA CHUCLE (PRAHA)

Pragues racecourse and the centre of flat racing. They stage trotting races on Saturdays and flat racing on Sundays. All Czech classics apart from the Oaks are run here. Steeplechasing disappeared in the eighties although it was briefly resurrected in the mid noughties. Hurdle races are run at most meetings after the summer break and there is a very interesting Category 1 Hurdle race run in September.  They will race 16 times in 2017 between April & June and September & October.



Number of racedays 2002 onwards

020304050607080910111213141516
Praha151922212122212221201513192018
Albertovec - - - - 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 - - - -
Benesov 2 - 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 2 1 1 -
Brno 2 3 3 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 3 3 3
Karlovy Vary 8 8 9 7 6 6 5 6 6 6 4 5 6 6 7
Kolesa 3 3 2 2 3 3 3 2 1 4 3 3 4 3 3
Lysa  4 5 5 4 3 3 3 6 5 6 6 7 6 6 2
Mimon - 1 1 2 1 2 2 2 2 2 - - - 2 3
Most10 7 9 9 8 8 8 8 8 7 6 7 6 5 5
Netolice 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 1
Pardubice121211111010101010101012101010
Radislavice - 1 1 1 1 1 - 1 1  -  - - - - -
Slusovice 8 1 4 2 3 2 4 4 4 4 3 3 5 5 4
Svetla Hora 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1  -  1 1 1 1
Tochovice 3 1 1 1 1 1 1  1 1 1 - - - - -

Mirosov which staged one days racing between 1998 & 2002 and Olsany (2001 & 2002) staged one days sport each in 2002. Neither  have raced since,

Number of races


Flat races
Jumps races
2002374172
2003333129
2004377161
2005333161
2006351168
2007348168
2008350173
2009364184
2010358173
2011364175
2012311154
2013321158
2014328163
2015335150
2016309148
2017

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