After the carnage of 1984 entry conditions were tightened for the 1985 renewal resulting in just twenty one entries (twenty down from the previous year). Only eleven lined up but it was a good field. Reigning champion EROT was back as was FESTIVAL and JAWAN. There were also high hopes for a seven year old colt called ESSEX ridden by Vaclav Chaloupka. They were to make history the following April by becoming the first Czech horse in fifty years to contest the Grand National at Aintree. ESSEX was a headstrong little colt and he went into an early lead with SANTOS. The Pardubice executive no doubt let out a collected sigh of relief as only two horses came down, ironically both Soviet challengers PANSIONAT and EROT who took an uncharacteristic tumble. For some reason Popkovices turn was not included this year and the runners instead took a snall fence in the middle of the wood. ESSEX remained in the lead yet he came down at the usually trouble free fence seven and whilst Chaloupka quickly remounted he was not able to coax the little colt over the "In and Out". The seven survivors, led by the sole surviving Russian ELDA settled down and by the time the horses had crossed the stone wall in front of the stands only ZELEZNIK had dropped out with a broken stirrup at the thirteenth. Having been a relatively incident free race there was sensation at the seventeenth, the notorious Snake-Ditch water . Leader BORG appeared hesitant and fell into the fence immediately followed by PARAMON. FESTIVAL struggled but got through the water with the partnership with jockey Vozab intact. ELDA and outsider VEMIN were not so lucky and both took spectacular dives, VEMIN giving both herself and her a jockey a good ducking. As with twelve months before FESTIVAL found himself left with just one horse to beat after the eighteenth , this time it was SANTOS who had been campaigned heavily all season as he had desperately tried to qualify for the Velka. SANTOS was a frail looking animal and by the English Jump where he almost had to drag himself over the fenc it was clear that he was not up to the task. FESTIVAL took the lead and was thereafter never in danger running out a very easy winner from the remounted PARAMON and the exhausted SANTOS. Whilst no Sagar, FESTIVAL was a worthy winner who had been able to continue the successful run of the Kadruby stud. The famous black and white quartered colours are still seen on Czech racecourses (under the name "Vasury Kolesa") although they are have not won the Velka again.
Also ran : ZELEZNIK - Antonin Novak (pulled up after 12th), ESSEX - Vaclav Chaloupka 7 (fell 7th remounted refused 9th), PANSIONAT - J.Sevljakov 9 (fell 4th), EROT - N.Chludjev 11 (unseated rider 4th), JAWAN - Jaromir Stohanzl 12 (pulled up after 2nd).
Non Runner : Bosy
Trainer : Vaclav Cermal. Distances : distance-3-5-distance-15. Time : 10 mins 36.4 secs
12th October 1986
EROT was back to make amends for his uncharacteristic early exit last year with another Soviet, newcomer GVARDJESK while FESTIVAL was looking to emulate his illustrious stable companion Sagar with back to back wins. The Taxis for the second year running only claimed a fraction of the runners with just three coming down although LOZORNO sadly was killed. GVARDJESK continued the Soviet trend of front running at a ridiculous pace early on. However at the normally trouble free Fence 10 the Soviet simply ran head first into the small ditch in front of the fence hampering ZELEZNIK who was just behind him and EROT who was unseated. In true Velka tradtiion all three were remounted although GVARDEJESKs rider Kasajev has to entangle the reins and extricate his mount from the fence. VALENCIO was left in the lead followed by PARAMON and ORKA. PARAMON briefly took the lead after the Drop but only for a matter of strides as VALENCIO headed the field onto the Snake Ditch where for the second year running there was considerable grief. PARAMON, clearly remembering his fall there the previous year refused pitching his jockey into the water, FESTIVAL came to a complete stop immediately behind although he managed to jump into the water and kept jockey Vozab in the saddle. Less fortunate was ORKA who got a ducking and no amount of caoxing could persuade DUKAT and POLY EXPRESS to take the fence. VALENCIO in a matter of strides was left in an unassailable lead pursued by the remounted Soviets EROT and GVARDJESK who had been the main beneficiaries from the trouble at the previous fence. FESTIVAL was left a distant fourth. The rest of the race was a procession. VALENCIO simply stayed in front and none of his pursuars were able to get anywhere near him. It was the easiest victory ever seen in the Velka despite some fairly mediocre jumping by the leader. It was a farily miserable end for the Soviet duo. EROT crashed out at the last hurdle and lay winded on the ground for several minutes whilst GVARDJESK was completely exhausted by his efforts. Neither raced at Pardubice again. As for VALENCIO he turned his attention to Aintree and was sent to be trained in the South of England for an assault on the great race. He ran twice in the UK, pulling up in a small race at Newton Abbot before carrying top weight of twelve stone in the 1987 Grand National. He was behind when he fell at Valentines Brook on the second circuit. Returning to Czechoslavakia in pretty poor condition he raced just once more in 1987 where he suffered an injury and was retired. He enjoyed a very long and happy retirement before he passed away just before Christmas 2007 aged thirty.
Trainer : Frantisek Holcak. Distances : distance-4-distance-distance. Time : 10 mins 39.04 secs
4th October 1987
With Valencio injured in the Grand National just one former winner, FESTIVAL lined up this year. ZELEZNIK, partnered for the first time by Josef Vana had recently changed trainers and was now in the hands of young vet Cestmir Olehla. The entire FORMAN and PARAMON were quickly away with ORKA prominent. The pace was fast and furious, too fast for MALBA who was already some way adrift by the time the field reached the Taxis. PARAMON led over the great ditch which this year proved to have rather less bite that usual only claiming two horses SAFJAN and MAJAK. ORKA did his best to run out the the Irish Bank but jockey Kantek managed to steer him over. Unusually for a Velka there were few incidents in the early part of the race. FORMAN maintained his lead ahead of ZELEZNIK, PARAMON & VIETOR whilst FESTIVAL appeared to be struggling in rear and MALBA was tailed off. There was drama again at the seventeenth where for the third year running PARAMON came to grief. This year it was a refusal and try as he might jockey Jasinsky just could not coax the horse over his bogey fence. At the Big Water FESTIVAL actually fell into the brook giving viewers the first view of the effects that recent modifications had had on the fence. A fall such as this would have led to disaster but now as FESTIVAL only went up to his knees in the water and was able to quite easily continue on his way. In a sign of the times GOLGOTA fell there and was caught by his jockey but not remounted. At the second "In and Out" FORMAN was clear followed by VIETOR, ORKA, ZELEZNIK and the grey GIBRIDKA. VIETOR overjumped the first part and stumbled into the ditch on the take off of the second. It looked quite gruesome as the horse was trapped inside the fence unable to get up but fortunately he was extricated from the fence and was seemingly none the worse for his ordeal. FORMAN was yet to be headed in the race and by Havels Jump the race looked to be between the brave little colt, ZELEZNIK and GIBRIDKA. FORMAN was to race in four Velkas yet he never quite stayed the full distance and after the second last hurdle he was overtaken by ZELEZNIK and simply could not go with him. ZELEZNIK went on to win the race at this third attempt and in doing so recorded the first sub ten minute Velka in a time of 9 minutes 56.13 seconds.
Trainer : Cestmir Olehla. Distances : 12-7-distance-distance. Time : 9 mins 56.13 sec. COURSE RECORD
9th October 1988
FREE FLOW and amateur William Sporborg flew the flag for Britain this year and were to put up by far the best display for the UK since Christopher Collins and Stephens Society fifteen years earlier. ORKA, PARADA and the mare LIBENTINA disputed the lead in the early stages whilst the two Soviet challengers SLITOK and TREST were surprisingly some way behind. TREST didn`t get very far, falling at the first water and amazingly for a Soviet challenger was not remounted. PARADA, CHVILE and LIBENTINA led at a break neck speed to the Taxis and all three fell. ORKA, blundered and rider Kantek performed miracles to stay in the saddle although it looked as if some of his tack had broken in the effort and he spent the rest of his race looking very uncomfortable as he tried to keep his balance and the partnership intact. The giant FREE FLOW found himself in the lead at the Irish Bank which outsider VIADUKT steadfastly refused to clear despite the best endeavours of rider Grassl. FREE FLOW and ORKA disputed the lead over the In and Out which had been modified to prevent horses falling into the ditch before the fence. This clearly worked as the fence caused no problems this year. SLITOK, who had fallen at the Taxis but in true Soviet style had been remounted was running at an insane pace for so early in the contest and was driven into a clear lead by fence 10A which saw ZELEXNIK in sixth place make a rare Velka mistake. SLITOK remained in a clear lead and by the Stone wall was about twenty lengths in front of ZELEZNIK, FREE FLOW, ORKA, TOROK KARD aand VIVIER, who was sporting very distinctive blinkers. At the Snake Ditch Kantek finally gave in to gravity, parting company with ORKA and there was more drama at the next fence, the big water. The leader SLITOK crumpled on landing, TOROK KARD fell and VIVIER refused. Suddenly there were only two horses left with any chance of victory, ZELEZNIK and FREE FLOW who both had no problems at the water. The race was effectively a dual between these two who continued a distance clear of poor SLITOK who had been remounted yet again, MEDAILON and VIADUKT who had somehow cleared the Irish Bank at about the seventeenth attempt and who had been running in splendid isolation for most of the race. FREE FLOW and ZELEZNIK made a splendid, if a little odd sight as they cleared fence after fence together - I say odd because of the huge difference in size between them. The two even slowed down considerably at one stage to preserve energy. SLITOK fell for a third time at Havels and I can only assume the rider was hurt as he did not try and force the exhausted animal to continue for third place. ZELEZNIK to a degree had been toying with the British horse and eventually drew clear to win very easily by fifteen lentghs whilst FREE FLOW finished a distance clear of MEDAILON, the races only other finisher. FREE FLOWs heroics went almost unoticed in the British press but his gallant efforts inpsired a new wave of enthusiastic amateurs from the UK who would try their luck in the coming years.
With the collapse of communism just over a month away the last Velka of the Communist era took place with an unprecedented number of British entries. Perhaps inspired by the heroics of Free Flow the year before, five hopeful connections sent runners albeit all were from the pointing/hunting field and none had any traceable form over rules. The home challenge saw four horses head and shoulders above the rest led by ZELEZNIK looking to emulate Sagar and Korok with a third straight victory. ZELEZNIK was unbeaten in three starts this year including the valuable Korok Steeplechase in August. FORMAN and two mares LIBENTINA and FRAZE were also in very good form whilst perhaps the kindest thing that could be said of the rest of the home challenge was that they were making up the numbers in what was a surprisingly big field. It had been raining heavily at Pardubice in the days leading up to the race and by the race several parts of the plough were covered in deep puddles. ZELEZNIK and FRAZE were amongst the early leaders with the grey SLALOM and the Slovak QUIRINUS. The fast pace meant that the field were already very strung out by the time the field had reached the first water where the British challenger CARIBO became the races first casualty. ZELEZNIK and FORMAN cleared the Taxis ahead of SLALOM & QUIRINUS who both came down. Most of the leaders jumped the fence well but towards the rear there were several very nasty looking falls and as the survivors thundered towards the Irish Bank there were a couple of fallen riders who looked to be in very poor shape indeed. The last ever Soviet challengers GARNIZON and LUBIJSTOK had been ridden into the lead at the Irish Bank but both refused handing the initiative over to FRAZE. With more horses disappearing at the sixth and seventh fence the field was by now decimated. FRAZE, BLACKTHORN, ZELEZNIK, LIBENTINA & FORMAN led over the "In and Out" where RED CHEVAL refused which meant that after nine fences only BLACKTHORN was left flying the flag for the Brits. A lovely looking grey (almost white) half bred BLACKTHORN found himself in a clear lead by Fence 11. Following the grey were the Czech quartet of FRAZE, ZELEZNIK, FORMAN and LIBENTINA followed by another mare SILUETA and the Soviet EKSPONAT who fell at the final water. No other horses were in sight. BLACKTHORN weakened after the final water and the four Czechs were left with the race between themselves. LIBENTINA was the first to fade and FORMAN who for the only time in his illustrious Velka career had not managed to get his head in front looked booked for third place as FRAZE and ZELEZNIK raced to Havels in a clear lead. Ridden by two of Czech racings legends Vaclav Chaloupka on FRAZE and Josef Vana on ZELEZNIK they made a fine sight as they raced together over the final three hurdles. Although the two jumped the last together ZELEZNIK had the faster turn of foot and left his rival toiling in the home straight. As for the Brits the venture had been a disaster with CARIBO and TORFHA amongst the races three fatalities. It was surprising therefore to see an even stronger British challenge the following year.
Also Ran : LJUBISTOK - N.Chludejev (refused 5th continued unseated rider 18th remounted unseated rider 27th), MEDAILON - S.Kadvan 10 (fell 17th remounted pulled up 22nd), GARNIZON - R.Umarov 7 (refused 5th continued, refused & unseated rider 11th remounted refused 19th), RED CHEVAL - Mr Richard Chandler 8 (refused 9th continued refused 10th), SLALOM - Jaromir Stohanzl 8 (fell 4th remounted pulled up 7th), VELEN - R.Petrlik 7 (ran out 7th), TARQUIN - Mr Jonathan Lee 12 (pulled up 6th), PARNAS - M.Hanus 9 (brought down 6th), GAJSAN - L.Sara 6 (fell 4th), QUIRINUS - J.Brecka 7 (fell 4th), WAGARI - A.Langr 6 (fell 4th), CABRAK - J.Havlicek (fell 4th), MOCA - J.Blabolil 6 (fell 4th), TORFHA - P.Vozab 11 (fell 3rd), RAKITNIK - G.Nesterov 6 (fell 3rd), GREWOT - V.Vinklarek 7 (pulled up 3rd), CARIBO - Mr Gerald Morgan 14 (unseated rider 3rd).
Non Runners : Kruton, Orka, Gorizont, Abervanter
Trainer : Cestmir Olehla. Distances : 7-11-distance-20-distance-distance-distance. Time : 10 min 16.3 secs
14th October 1990
There was a wonderful optimistic mood as Pardubice celebrated the one hundredth running of the Velka Pardubicka. This was the first to be run in the "new" Czechoslovakia following the collapse of the communist regime at the end of 1989 and with it the first "free" elections. A massive field of thirty runners were declared for the race including four British entrants and the first ever Irish challenger. It was prehaps surprising bearing in mind the disastrous British assault on the 1989 race that there was so much British interest. Richard Chandler who had failed to finish on Red Cheval the previous year was back with CLONROCHE STREAM whilst there were high hopes for David Naylor-Leyland`s PRECPICE LODGE, Julian Smythe-Osborne on BADGERS MEAD and Gavin Wragg on GRAND CHEVAL. Top amateur rider and winner of the years Grand National Marcus Armytage had picked up a spare ride on the Czech mare SILUETA who had finished the race twelve months earlier. As for the home supporters the four who had dominated last years renewal, ZELEZNIK, FRAZE , FORMAN and LIBENTINA were all back and in good form. FRAZE was unbeaten in two starts and ZELEZNIK had won at Pardubice in June. There was also a new kid on the block, DYNAMIT a clasic winner on the flat he had won eight of his nine starts over fences and had already inflicted a rare defeat over ZELEZNIK this season. There was a lot of media interest in the race this year with Sky Sports showing the race live and Richard Pitman and the BBC were in town filming a piece on the race which was to be broadcast the following week on the BBCs flagship sports programme "Grandstand". Unfortunately the Irish challenger Navalus (who was to have been ridden by Charlie Mann of whom more later) was a non runner which still left a record twenty nine runners that were dispatched in two lines by Jiri Schindler. ZELENZIK was fast away as was FORMAN, DRAK and DISCO. Sadly GRAND CHEVAL got no further than the first water but a record twenty eight runners charged to the Taxis. DISCO and ZELEZNIK landed in front together but DISCO came down and was immediately joined by another eleven on the ground and for the second year running very few were remounted. The sole Russian challenger CHUTOROK literally charged into the Irish Bank and as Pahang had done eight years before and slided over the top in an untidy heap. FORMAN, FRAZE, LIBENTINA, and ZELEZNIK were all to the fore as they approached Popkovices turn where there was to the most sensational incident in a Velka for years. ZELEZNIK appearing to come a little too close to FORMAN jinxed at the fence and refused, throwing Josef Vana throught the fence. DYNAMIT immediately behind tried to jump the prostrate horse and rider and Miroslav Hanus was unseated. In an instant the first and second favourite were out of the race. FORMAN was now joined by FLOVER who rather enthusiastically was driven into the seventh by his debutant rider Zdenik Matysik who didn`t get the resposne he was after as the horse slid unceremoniously to the ground. After the drama of the early stages the race settled down with FORMAN, LIBENTINA, FRAZE, CLONROCHE STREAM and PRECIPICE LODGE disputing the lead with a mere seven following on behind them. The snake ditch which looked to have been modified since the last Velka did not claim any scalps at all whilst only Vladimir Vinklarek (who it should be pointed out had cleared the Taxis with his horse for the first time) was the sole casualty over the last water. PRECIPICE LODGE was still in contention and indeed had led for large parts of the race but by the Big English jump the race appeared to be between FRAZE and LIBENTINA. The two mares, both sporting yellow silks drew clear of PRECIPICE LODGE with Naylor-Leyland putting up the riding performance of the race having lost one of his irons. Nothing could separate the two Czech mares as they came to the last obstacle together and this year FRAZE clung tenaciously to the lead. In the most exciting finish seen at Pardubice for years LIBENTINA just won in a course record time. PRECIPICE LODGE finished third ahead of the ever courageous FORMAN and BADGERS MEAD. In all three of the four Brits had completed the course and with Marcus Armytage finishing as well this was a good result for the overseas challenge. A worthy winner on the day LIBENTINA never raced again, retiring to her native Motesice stud. She sadly died in 1994 whilst giving birth to her third foal. FRAZE turned her attention to the Aintree Grand National lining up in 1991. Burdened with automatic top weight of twelve stone she was never a factor and was pulled up at half way. Unfortunately she sustained a slight injury and was retired. One week later the BBC showed the race in its entirety for the first and so far only time. Oh well there`s always Youtube.
10th GREWOT - Vladimir Vinklarek 8, 70.5 (fell 18th remouonted)
11th RIGOLETTO - J.Sevjlakov 6, 70.5 (fell 6th remounted ran out 27th continued)
Also Ran : KREK - Vladimir Snitkovskij 6 (pulled up 27th), RHODE - J.Zdobina 6 (fell 11th), FLOVER - Zdenik Matysik 6 (fell 7th), ZELEZNIK - Josef Vana 12 (refused & unseated rider 6th), DYNAMIT - Miroslav Hanus 7 (unseated rider 6th), CHUTOROK - R.Kuman 7 (fell 5th), SLALOM - Jaromir Stohanzl 9 (fell 4th remounted refused 5th), TREST - V.Kravcenko 8 (fell 4th), MONKA - Rosa Charvatova 8 (fell 4th), DRAK - Petr Vozab 6 (unseated rider 4th), UTAH - Mr Josef Kovanda 9 (fell 4th), JICIN - Jan Havlicek 6 (fell 4th), , DISCO - Jiri Paulina 6 (fell 4th), MAREK - M.Kantek 9 (fell 4th), TOKIO - A.Jerabek 7 (unseated rider 4th), LEST - T.Lang 7 (fell 4th), FORMAT - V.Soukup 7 (fell 4th), GRAND CHEVAL - Mr Gavin Wragg 9 (fell 3rd).
Non Runner - Navallus
Trainer : Frantisek Holcak. Distances : 1/4-distance-7-distance-distance-distance-3-distance-3-distance. Time : 9 mins 49.4 secs COURSE RECORD
13th October 1991
In a sign of changing times the Velka was sponsored for the first time by Czech Insurance company Ceske Pojistovny. As a result the prize money more than doubled. Another new sight on a Czech racecourse albeit a lot less welcome one were the number of animal rights protestors. Envigorated no doubt by the first flush of "freedom" in the new democratic Czechoslovakia the antis made their way to Pardubice and held up proceedings as several staged a sit down protest in front of the Taxis while the runners circled at the start. Fortunately they were cleared with a minimum of fuss and Jiri Schindler was able to send the twenty one runners on their way. FORMAN, who has sweated up very badly in the preliminaries for once missed the break and was one of the backmarkers as the field charged to the first fence led by the Russian challenger GARNIZON and DRAK who was taking quite a hold. FORMAN had made up for his slow start and disputed the lead with ZELEZNIK and HAGEN as the field thundered twoards the Taxis where once again there were a number of grisly looking falls including a young girl with a shock of blond hair sticking out from under her helmet, Martina Ruzickova, having her first Velka ride on outsider MONKA. FORMAN and ZELEZNIK carried on in front where both GARNIZON and DRAK were reluctant to get over the Irish Bank. There were no problems this year for ZELEZNIK at Popkovices Turn and as the field approached the Seventh fence DRAK and GARNIZON were disputing the lead. Both horses were taking quite a hold and the Russian Casajev was unable to control GARNIZON who unexpectedly ran out leaving DRAK in a clear lead. Remembering his riding experience in the old Soviet Union Casajev was able to quickly put the horse back to the fence which he then took successfully. DRAK, FORMAN, ZEKLEZNIK and DISCO ridden by English amateur Marcus Armytage (the only British interest in this years race). Despite the number of early falls there still seemed to be a larger than usual amount of runners still in the race. As is so often the case at this stage of the race things seemed to have settled down with the survivors maintaing their order but as the field took the turn into Poplars rails something unbelivable happened. DRAK, who was still leading took the turn too wide. Veteran jockey Vaclav Chaloupka found himself desperately using all his strength to steady the horse and coax him round the turn to jump the fence. He managed to do so but as DRAK ran back on course he came close to DISCO, unsighting him. DISCO crashed through the top of the rails and came down in a horrible fall. ZELEZNIK and Josef Vana, right behind him had no-where to go and in an instant the champion had turned a somersault and Vana was on the floor. There was a gasp from the crowd. Both horses were quick on their feet (although poor DISCO was clearly injured) as was the sprightly Vana. As the leaders made their way to the Drop Vana could just be seen in the background remounting ZELEZNIK. The task however looked hopeless. ZELEZNIK and Vana were over a furlong behind and were now with the ranks of the tail enders who had been remounted having fallen at the Taxis earlier in the race. DRAK, GARNIZON, FORMAN, CORTEZ and RHODE were clear over the stone wall and the "Snake pit" water jump. At the big water, GARNIZON clipped the landing side and came to a painful halt, the last horse to fall victim to this enormous fence before modifications. DRAK, FORMAN, RHODE and CORTEZ cleared the second "In and Out" a distance clear of ZELEZNIK who had not only caught but swept past the tail enders. ZELEZNIK was making up an enormous amount of ground and by the time the leaders had reached the Big English jump to the delight of the crowd he jumped into the lead. Driven by Vana he drew clear of FORMAN who as usual was not able to last the distance, RHODE and CORTEZ were spent forces and it was only DRAK and Chaloupka who looked like making a race of it. For the third year running Chaloupka found himself locked in a struggle for the lead over the final two hurdles but unlike last year when he and Fraze had looked like they would win it was clear that he and the gallant DRAK were always going to be booked for second place. The form book says it was a close run thing but to my mind ZELEZNIK ran out a very easy three length winner. It was the most sensational riding performance ever seen at Pardubice as ZELEZNIK wrote his name into the record books by becoming the first and so far only horse to win four Velkas. For ZELEZNIK the story was coming to a close. Amazingly for Josef Vana it was only the beginning.
Also Ran : GARNIZON - Ch Kasajev 9 (ran out 7th continued fell 18th), DISCO - Mr Marcus Armytage 7 (hampered & fell 14th), MY DREAM MAKER - Karel Zajko 7 (fell 7th), AZGIR - N.Chludejev 6 (fell 4th), HAGEN - J.Zdobina 4 (fell 4th), MONKA - Martina Ruzickova 9 (fell 4th), PAUZA - Vladimir Vinklarek 6 (fell 4th), PEON - M.Bezdek 10 (fell 4th), PIRANA - J.Bartonek 7 (unseated rider 4th), UTAH - Dusan Andres 10 (fell 4th), VEDEREMO - Zdeno Koplik 8 (unseated rider 4th)
Trainer : Cestmir Olehla. Distances : 3-distance-15-8-dead heat-distance-5-1/2-distance. Time : 10 minutes 01.1 second
P.S: Hagen a faller at the Taxis ran in the next race the Poplar Memorial......and won.
11th October 1992
ZELEZNIK returned for a record equalling eighth time in the Velka in search of an unprecedented fifth victory. Now at the age of fourteen he had only run once this season winning at Pardubice in June. Not surprisingly he started a hot favourite. QUIRINUS looked to be his main local rival as he had won three times at Pardubice whilst CAKRON had beaten several of the field over 5800m at Pardubice in August. The foreign challenge consisted of the British trained BOREEN KING who we had last seen running in the 1991 Aintree Foxhunters whilst Marcus Armytage had picked up a spare ride on CORTEZ. The French returned to Pardubice for the first time since 1947 with two challengers, HARTICHE from Guillaume Macaires stable who was quietly fancied and a Monsieur Bocquet (who would become something of a Velka legend over the next few years) on PACHA DE FERCE. Martell who had just taken over sponsorshop of the Aintree Grand National sponsored the whole card for the first time. There were also two Bulgarian six year olds, Imal & Namiren who appeared on the racecard but who didn`t run. Sadly the 1992 renewal will not be remembered for the race itself but for the protests of hundreds of animal rights activists who invaded the course as the horses were parading in front of the stands. Delaying proceedings by over thirty minutes they staged sit down protests and formed a line in front of the Taxis. Clearly unequipped to deal with such an unprecedented situation the Police and security staff struggled to remove them. As soon as one lot of protesters were moved and bundled roughly into Police vans others replaced them. As patience began to wear thin the Police started using rougher tactics striking out with batons. In the stands sympathy began to shift as the protestors started to be dealt with more forcefully. Finally the course appeared clear and the fifteen horses were started with VAH one of the first to show. However, the protests were not yet over as after the jumping the second fence the field were faced with more protesters running onto the course chased by Police. The field were forced to slow to a virtual walk as they weaved in between a mass of bodies. Taking the Taxis at a much slower pace than usual there was predictably carnage. The Russian LANOLIN did not get high enough and fell through the fence and into the ditch. LIARD, CORTEZ, MONKA, PACHA DE FERCE, CAKRON all fell as did HARTICHE who rolled directly into the path of ZELEZNIK who was brought down. The seven survivors were quickly reduced to six when HRAC unseated at Popkovices Turn depsite jockey Fencls brave endeavours to try and keep the partnership intact. Whilst VAH had been an early leader QUIRINUS took over at the sixth and the race settled down with very little change in the order. QUIRINUS stayed in front followed by VAH, VIANA, RHODE and GEMER with BOREEN KING content to amble along in the rear. Approaching Havels Jump VAH was struggling and the race looked to be between QUIRINUS, VIANA and RHODE. VAH took a heavy fall at Havels and QUIRINUS stayed on to win from VIANA and RHODE with a distance back to BOREEN KING. GEMR did finish the course for debutant rider Dusan Andres in his own time as the celebrations for the winner were in full swing as he walked across the line. Flanked by tight security Martell President Patrick Martell presented the prizes and was then whisked away from racecourse in his private jet. For Martell this had been a PR disaster and whilst they continued to sponsor the Grand National until 2004 they did not return to Pardubice. QUIRINUS was trained in what was to become Slovakia in the "divorce" from Czecholslovakia the following year and whilst he did not hit the same heights again he turned his attentions to Aintree running in both the void National of 1993 and the 1994 race where he unseated his rider at the Chair when tailed off. He last ran in the 1995 Velka.