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Velka Pardubicka Steeplechase

11th October 2009

Whilst there had clearly been some disappointment with the turn out in 2008, the Pardubice executive could have no complaints about the quantity of the 2009 Velka field. From a total of sixty entries a staggering twenty six horses were declared to run, the largest since 1990. One difference from 1990 was that the maximum field now allowed for the Velka was twenty five so for the first time in Velka history one unlucky horse, the Martina Ruzickova trained Rubin found himself eliminated. Whilst the field was undoubtably strong on quantity scratch below the surface and one could have argued that it was not in fact the strongest of line ups. SIXTEEN was back to seek a hat-trick of victories whilst her great rival from twelve months ago Amant Gris remained in his stable having picked up an injury in the summer. The best Czech chaser Moning Let was absent too having suffered a fatal injury in the May qualifier. Of the home challenge, the ex-German trained POCCI, NUMERO DUE and a lightly raced runner from the Josef Vana stable TIUMEN attracted attention. The foreign challenge could not be said to be a strong one, French trained JUFUL TENNIS had twice failed to complete the Cheltenham cross country course, whilst little was known about two of the Brits, LUCKY LUK and SUPER LORD. One that did have some form was LUCKY NELLERIE, trained by Ferdy Murphy who was a winner of the Durham National at Sedgefield whilst Charlie Manns MR BIG had competed in the military chases at Sandown and was possibly the best of the foreign challenge. With so many no hopers left in the field there was some concern as the twenty five runners were sent off in admirably ordered fashion that there would be carnage in the early stages of the race and a collective sigh of relief was audible as the field raced away from the Taxis with only one faller. The unlucky combination was HIRSCH and Dusan Andres who was having his fourth fall at the fence. In 2005 RED DANCER had blazed the trail and contributed to the then course record being smashed - he had had injuries since then but found himself one again blazing the trail with the outsider DERBY SHARP, sporting distinctive blue blinkers and the evergreen NUMERO DUE. LUCKY NELLERIE jumped to the fount at the Irish Bank and held a clear advantage as they came to Popkovices Jump, the Czech equivalent of the Canal Turn. However, like Superior Finish before him, LUCKY NELLERIE did not fancy the task and swerved to the right at the last minute throwing jockey Keith Mercer. Mercifully, unlike Superior Finish in 1998 he did not set of a disasterous chain reaction as the rest of the field cleared the fence with ease. This was the first major surprise of the 2009 Velka. Those that had expected chaos were surprised as jump after jump the huge field cleared without mishap so that by the two water jumps as incredible twenty two of the twenty five were still standing although outsider LIRAIN was making very heavy weather of it in rear and MR BIG like his stable companion Nadover the year before did not seem to be enjoying himself. NUMERO DUE, RED DANCER and DERBY SHARP disputed the lead over the final water where DERBY SHARP blundered and Bratislava specialist SHIRLEY, landed awkwardly breaking a leg continuing the Albertovec Studs wretched recent record in the race. SIXTEEN, POCCI and TIUMEN were all gaining on the leaders, Josef Vana fifty seven years young was playing a a tactical waiting game in about sixth place as the huge field negotiated the second in and out without incident. The British challenger SUPER LORD briefly made a challenge but the order remained mostly the same as the horses thundered towards the Big English Jump. RED DANCER and DERBY SHARP had done their bit. NUMERO DUE was still to the fore as he had been throughout whilst POCCI, SIXTEEN and TIUMEN were all handy. After Havels we had a breakaway group with NUMERO DUE and POCCI duelling for the lead ahead of SITEEN and TIUMEN. At the second last the two leaders were still ahead but TIUMEN had overtaken SIXTEEN, fifty seven year old Vana was getting the better of his stable jockey, thirty years his junior. Whilst POCCI and NUMERO DUE had their own private battle it was TIUMEN who was going the better, jumping the last in the lead and he forged clear to the tumultuous roar of the crowd, the Czech TV commentator was going ballistic...TIUMEN and  Vana romped to victory by three and a half lengths, SIXTEEN stayed on in the closing stages to pass NUMERO DUE as POCCI faded into fifth place. It was Vanas fifth victory as a jockey and seventh as a trainer. He was having only his eigth ride in three years and on his one prior rode this year had looked extremely unfit when partnering the useful Welldancer to a distant last place in the Albertovec cross country chase. Watching that Albertovec race I formed the view that Vana looked  finished as a jockey and I was not alone - several Czech commentators were voicing their opinions that Vana should really hang up his boots. I went further..I was rude. In my form guide for Course and Distance Racing I wrote this about Tiumens chances..."Any chances this one may have had has been scuppered by Vanas decision to ride him".....never have I been so wrong. It was perhaps best that I wasn`t at Pardubice this year but watching on Youtube with my jaw scraping the floor back home in darkest Kent.

VELKA PARDUBICKA CESKE POJISTOVNY 4,500,000KC (1st 2,250,000kc, 2nd 1,035,000kc, 3rd 675,000kc, 4th 315,000kc, 5th 225,000kc) 25 runners (59 entries)

1st  TIUMEN - Josef Vana    8, 68

2nd SIXTEEN - Josef Bartos    9, 66

3rd  NUMERO DUE - Jiri Kousek    8, 68

4th  MANDARINO - Jaroslav Myska    8, 68

5th  POCCI - Jan Korpas    9, 68

6th  JUNG - Bohuslav Matl    9, 68

7th  SUPER LORD - Jan Faltejesek    11, 68

8th  JUFUL TENNIS - Fernand de Oliviera    12, 68

9th  LAKREG - Martin Liska    9, 68

10th PROFIL - Michal Kohl    10, 68

11th TOMIS - Pavel Kasny    8, 65

12th MARATH - Paul Hamblin    9, 68

13th MR LAND - Pavel Slozil    10, 68

14th DERBY SHARP - Josef Sovka    9, 68

15th RED DANCER - Romano Raffaele    13, 68

16th MR BIG - Noel Fehily    8, 68

17th ROOSEVELT - Thomas Boyer    11, 68

18th IL EN REVE - Ken Whela    11, 68

Also Ran : MONTGOMERY - Petr Tuma 9 (unseated rider 29th), DEL SOLE - Josef Vana Jnr  7 (pulled up 29th), LIRAIN - Jaromir Hrudka 8 (unseated rider 24th), SHIRLEY - Marek Stromsky  8 (pulled up after 18th), LUCKY LUK - Jason Maguire 10 (unseated rider 15th), LUCKY NELLERIE - Keith Mercer 10 (refused & unseated rider 6th), HIRSCH - Dusan Andres 13 (fell 4th)

Eliminated : Rubin

Trainer : Josef Vana. Time : 9 minutes 19.56 seconds. Distances : 3.5-5-9-5-11-15-17-head-nose-sht-hd-sht-hd-3 3/4-2-1.5-distance-9-17

10th October 2010

TIUMEN was very much the forgotten horse in the build up to this years Velka as he was seen out just once finishing second in a Category 2 race at Pardubice in August. However, despite this they started favourite. It was a strong line-up with the winners of all four qualifiers in the field (MANDARINO, BREMEN PLAN, ASPIRANT & VALLDEMOSO) - the seven year old BREMEN PLAN was the pick of the debutants having won three times at the meeting over the the years. SIXTEEN was back as was her conqueror of 2008 AMANT GRIS who had won two small races at Pardubice in the spring. There was just one foreign runner this year, Charlie Manns MR BIG who was a surprising runner as he did not seem to enjoy himself the year before. From a ragged start BREMEN PLAN and JUNG were amongst the leaders as the field cleared the early fences without mishap. Josef Vana had settled TIUMEN in rear along with SIXTEEN whilst outsider LIGRETA ridden by Lucie Baluchova (having her first Velka ride for thirteen years) struggling in rear. BREMEN PLAN cleared the Taxis stylishly where one again there was just the one faller and once again the unfortunate jockey on the deck was Dusan Andres having been unseated from VALLDEMOSO. BREMEM PLAN still held the lead as the field made the turn towards the French jump (number 7) where the leader didn`t get far enough over the innocuous looking obstacle. Whilst the horses head did appear to hit the fence it still did not look the most serious of mistakes but in a matter of strides rider Jiri Kousek was on the floor. Another Velka debutant BEJRUT took over the lead with JUNG and AMANT GRIS and Marek Stromsky (who was making sure this year that they went the correct side of the marker on the approach to fence 10A) prominent. In rear LIGRETA, who had been making mistakes and appeared not up to the task this time took a heavy fall at fence 11. As with so many Velkas these days there was not too much action in the middle of the race as the order changed little. As for the sole Brit, once again Pardubice did not seem be a happy hunting ground for MR BIG with mistakes over the two water jumps and he was never a factor. At Havels both of Dr Charvarts two runners, ASPIRANT and BEJRUT their chances away.  AMANT GRIS still held the lead but now wiley old Josef Vana who had been stalking the leaders throughout came to make his challenge. The two drew clear of SIXTEEN as they raced together over the final three hurdles. Turning into the home straight TIUMEN just held the advantage but AMANT GRIS would not be denied. On the run in, TIUMEN edged towards the rails and Stromsky had the door effectively closed on him. Switching to the outer AMANT GRIS was not done with. In the dying strides Vana appeared to have believed he had done enough and amazingly just yards from the post Vana dropped his hands as AMANT GRIS came with one last surge. The post came just in time and it was TIUMENS second Velka, Vanas seventh as a rider and eighth as a trainer. Spare a thought though for poor AMANT GRIS possibly the unluckiest horse in Velka history - to win and lose in the stewards room and then the victim of interference in the dying stages of another. At the time I thought Vana was lucky to keep the race but having watched it a few times since I have concluded that despite the interference Stromsky would still have been beaten. One of the most exciting Velkas for years. Incidentally I watched this years race on Youtube in a hotel room in Bratsilava later that evening - bizarrely the Velka was not broadcast on Slovak television.

VELKA PARDUBICKA CESKE POJISTOVNY 4,500,000KC (1st 1,800,000kc, 2nd 990,000kc, 3rd 630,000kc, 4th 450,000kc, 5th 315,000kc, 6th 180,000kc, 7th 135,000kc) 19 runners (64 entries)

1st  TIUMEN - Josef Vana    9, 68

2nd AMANT GRIS - Marek Stromsky    11, 68

3rd  SIXTEEN - Josef Bartos    10, 68

4th  MANDARINO - Jaroslav Myska    9, 68

5th  TEVIOT - Lubos Urbanek    7, 68

6th  LIRAIN - Josef Vana Jnr    9, 68

7th  ASPIRANT - Jan Faltejesek    7, 68

8th  KOBUZ - Libor Simunek    8, 68

9th  LAKREG - Martin Liska    10, 68

10th JUVENTUS - Jan Korpas    11, 68

11th BEJRUT - Pavel Kasny    9, 68

12th MR BIG - Noel Fehily    9, 68

Also Ran : TERESINA - Marcel Novak 8 (unseated rider last), IL EN REVE - Pavel Slozil (pulled up 22nd), JUNG - Bohuslav Matl 10 (pulled up  17th), LIGRETA - Lucie Baluchova 10 (fell 11th), BREMEN PLAN - Jiri Kousek 7 (unseated rider 7th), RUBIN - Martina Ruzickova 8 (unseated rider 6th), VALLDEMOSO - Dusan Andres 6 (unseated rider 4th)

Non Runner : Baggio

Trainer : Josef Vana. Time : 9 minutes 03.73 seconds. Distances : nose-3 1/4-2 1/4-3 3/4-3/4-distance-4 1/4-neck-3 1/4-17-16

9th October 2011

This year TIUMEN not only took part in a Velka qualifier but won it decisively with Josef Vana rolling back the years with another superb riding performance. He may have been saving himself to just two or three rides a season but he showed he was still fit enough to deserve yet another crack at the Velka. Again he started favourite and to be fair there didn`t seem a great deal to oppose him apart from the usual suspects SIXTEEN and AMANT GRIS who were both now in the twighlight of their careers as well as BREMEN PLAN looking to make amends for his uncharacteristic error the year before. However, the eight year old was without a win all season. Just fourteen runners lined up on an unseasonably cold day in front of a much smaller crowd than usual. There also seemed to be a smaller than usual contingent of die-hard fans from Britain and Ireland which may have been down to the fact that there were no foreign challengers this year. BREMEN PLAN and SIXTEEN were swiftly away and we had drama at the second fence with the fancied ZULEJKA crashing out. SIXTEEN uncharateristically found herself at the lead as they approached the Taxis where once again there was just a single faller. This year KARLSBAD came down and immediately behind him in last place TIUMEN and Josef Vana were brought to a standstill badly impeded. ASPIRANT struggled over the Irish Bank (a fence that always seems to cause him difficulties at Pardubice) and whilst BREMEN PLAN was untidy at Popkovices Turn (his rider called a cab) he cleared the seventh with no problems this itme. SIXTEEN remained in front and spent most of the race in that position. Having been held up in most of her races it was rare to see her put in such a dominant display but fence after fence she attacked and with her still leading as the field came to the Big English Jump it looked like the mare would win. Whilst one grey was running her best race for a couple of seasons the other grey AMANT GRIS was showing that the years had finally caught up with him. He was struggling when he made a mistake at the Big English Jump and his chance was gone. As with last year TIUMEN made his move after Havels where TREZORs run had come to an end and it was down to the two Josef Vana horses. SIXTEEN still lad over the last but on the run-in the master got the better of his talented stable jockey to draw clear to win. This was TIUMEN and Vans best performance - to beat the best Czech jockey Josef Bartos in the manner they did was nothing short of breathtaking and to be honest there is no horse currently in training that will be able to lower their colours in 2013.

VELKA PARDUBICKA CESKE POJISTOVNY 4,500,000KC (1st 1,800,000kc, 2nd 990,000kc, 3rd 630,000kc, 4th 450,000kc, 5th 315,000kc, 6th 180,000kc, 7th 135,000kc) 14 ran (49 entries)

1st  TIUMEN - Josef Vana    10, 68.5

2nd SIXTEEN - Josef Bartos    11, 68.5

3rd  VALLDEMOSO - Dusan Andres    7, 68.5

4th  FLAMBION - Josef Sovka    7, 68.5

5th  MANDARINO - Pavel Kasny    10, 68.5

6th  BREMEN PLAN - Jan Korpas    8, 68.5

7th  ASPIRANT - Julien Lemee    8, 68.5

8th  AMANT GRIS - Marek Stromsky    12, 68.5

9th  WAVELIGHT LASER - Jiri Kousek    7, 68.5

Also ran : LIRAIN - Josef Vana Jnr 10 (pulled up last), TREZOR - Bohuslav Matl  7 (fell 27th), KLAUS - Jaroslav Myska  6 (unseated rider 18th), KARLSBAD - Marcel Novak  8 (fell 4th), ZULEJKA - Libor Simunek 6 (fell 2nd)

Non Runner : Teviot

Trainer : Josef Vana. Time : 9 minutes 15.29 seconds. Distances : 1/2-2 1/2-12-3 1/4-4 3/4-1-1 1/4-distance

13th October 2012

In a break with tradition the 2012 Velka was run on a Saturday in an attempt to avoid a clash with Pardubices`other main sporting event the Golden Helmet Speedway meeting (hopeless..absolutely hopeless). Fortnately for the Pardubice executive a bumper crowd still made the piglrimage to Pardubice albeit several regular visitors from the UK stayed way. TIUMEN was back to try a record fourth straight Velka success but both horse and rider had had their setbacks. TIUMEN was kept off the track until September whilst Josef Vana broke his thigh at Easter in a training accident. In a twenty three strong field he started favourite although there was considerable support for TREZOR who had raced in two qualifiers and won them both. He was to be ridden by the 2009 Gand National winning jockey Liam Treadwell who had ridden the horse to both his victories and had been making several visits to Pardubice over the summer to prepare for the big day. There were three foreign trained runners including the best Irish challenger for years in the Willie Mullins trained UNCLE JUNIOR , winner of the La Touche Cup at Punchestown and the British entry MALJIMAR who seemed an ideal candidate. Both had been running in cross country events in France in preparation with MALJIMAR winning a valuable event at Fontainebleau. After heavy rain conditions were testing. From a level start the mare ORPHEE DES BLINS the least experienced runner in the field went straight into the lead....and stayed there. Apart from handing the initiative to KLAUS at the Irish Bank ORPHEE DES BLINS was never headed and turned the race into a procession. Jumping superbly throughout she was clear by the second In and Out and the result barring a fall was never in doubt. It was easily the most dominant performance since modifications and we saw the most convincing winner since Valencio in 1986. Reminding me very much of the runaway winner of the 1997 Grand National, Lord Gyllene ORPHEE DES BLINS simply destroyed the field. TREZOR and KLAUS chased her for most of the race but faded whilst TIUMEN simply never got into the race at all (a mistake at the Big Water didn`t help his chances). UNCLE JUNIOR was never a factor and MALJIMAR spent most of the race in the rear but made up considerable ground to finish fourth. It was a race of few incidents, BREMEN PLAN blundered and unseated at the Taxis and only two other riders ended on the floor. ORPHEE DES BLINS originated from France and won five steeplechases there before being exported to the Czech Republic in August 2008. She was having only her eighth start having missed nearly two years through injury and was a first Velka runner for Polish trainer Greg Wroblewski who was now based in the Czech Repubic having trained in Italy and his native Poland. A dual purpose trainer this was his biggest win over jumps since he landed the Swedish Grand National in 2004. Jockey Jan Faltejesek had been riding with some success in the north of England for trainer Alistair Charlton and had ridden in the Cheltenham Gold Cup earlier in the year. Normal service resumed in 2013 with the Velka returning to its traditional Sunday slot.

VELKA PARDUBICKA CESKE POJISTOVNY 23 runners (58 entries) 4,800,000KC (1st 1,920,000kc, 2nd 1,056,000kc, 3rd 672,000kc, 4th 480,000kc, 5th 336,000kc, 6th 192,000kc, 7th 144,000kc)

1st  ORPHEE DES BLINS - Jan Faltejesek    10, 66

2nd RONINO - Jiri Kousek    7, 68

3rd  TIUMEN - Josef Vana    11, 68

4th  MALJIMAR - James Reveley    12, 68

5th  VALLDEMOSO - Dusan Andres    8, 68

6th  UNCLE JUNIOR - Emmet Mullins    11, 68

7th  DOCTOR PAT - Richie McLernon    8, 68

8th  TREZOR - Liam Treadwell    8, 68

9th  KLAUS - Jaroslav Myska    9, 68

10th BELMONT - Josef Vana Jnr    8, 68

11th CABERNET - Rotislav Bens    7, 68

12th ASPIRANT - Ondrej Velek  9, 68

13th KARLSBAD - Thomas Boyer    9, 68

14th GRILIAS - Paul Hamblin    8, 68

15th LE JACKPOT - Jaroslav Brecka    9, 68

Also ran : SIXTEEN - Josef Bartos 12 (pulled up 26th), WYONA - Michal Kubik 6 (pulled up 24th), TOMIS - Bohuslav Matl 11 (pulled up 22nd), NIKAS - Petr Tuma 7 (unseated rider 21st), MANDARINO - Pavel Kasny 11 (pulled up 15th), ARGENTAN - Marek Stromsky (pulled up 14th), IMBIR - Niklas Loven 8 (unseated rider 9th), BREMEN PLAN - Jan Korpas 9 (unseated rider 4th)

Trainer : Gregorsz Wroblewski. Time : 9 minutes 13.39 seconds. Distances : 16-12-12-2 1/2-11/4-14-1 3/4-5-10-19-6-3/4-1 3/4-6 

13th October 2013

Normal service resumed with the Velka returning to its traditional Sunday slot. ORPHEE DES BLINS was back and this year was a warm favourite at 2.75-1. After her Velka heroics she had been sent to Cheltenham to contest the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase in November but, despite running prominently for most of the race, she faded on the final circuit and was pulled up. This year as reigning Velka heroine she could bypass the qualifiers but she had done all that was asked of her winning her two races at Pardubice effortlessly. She had even beaten the best short distance chasers in the valuable Valecnik Prize in June. There was also strong support for former three time winner TIUMEN despite him not having won a race since his final Velka triumph two years ago and for TREZOR who had won two more Velka qualifiers during the summer. Another to note was BUDAPEST who had previously been targeted at Italy's premier prizes and had twice finished placed in the Gran Premio di Merano. The Irish were three handed with MOUNT SION and FRENEYS WELL who were running in the colours of JP McManus and ZEST FOR LIFE giving top amateur and big race specialist Sam Waley Cohen his first ride in the Czech Republic. For the UK Nick Williams sent over SHALIMAR FROMENTRO who had been campaigned in cross country races in France, Two British riders were on board Czech horses, Liam Treadwell was not on TREZOR this year but partnered an outsider, the flashy grey SESLOST. There was some resentment from some of the local riders without a ride on learning that a young British seventeen year old amateur with limited experience over jumps, Freddie Mitchell was getting the mount on rank outsider CANTRIDARA. There was drama as the horses made their way to the start when ZEST FOR LIFE slipped up, fortunately the fall had not come at the practice jump, otherwise they would have been prevented from running. As the flag came down KLAUS was quickly away but held a slight lead over the first but come the second ORPHEE DES BLINS was back in front and....she stayed there. Whilst her performance mirrored that of twelve years ago (total dominance), unlike last year there was considerable grief behind her as the number of those chasing her got smaller and smaller. MOUNT SION was the first to go taking a nasty looking at the fall at the first water and whilst the Taxis claimed no scalps Popkovices Turn saw three depart including BUDAPEST and CANTRIDARA leaving a frustrated Mitchell throwing his helmet to the turf in anger. Two went at the next and when SHALIMAR FROMENTRO crashed out at the tenth fence there were only twelve left standing as loose horses criss-crossed the course reminiscent of pre-modification days. The French raider TROPIC DE BRION, KLAUS, STATUS QUO and outsider PEINTRE ABSTRAIT were in contention at half way whilst TIUMEN was struggling at the rear of the field with the Slovak outsider BODYGUARD. Sam Waley-Cohen was separated from ZEST FOR LIFE at the Drop fence and both KLAUS and STATUS QUO did their chances no good with mistakes at the big water. Meanwhile in front and oblivious to the chaos behind her ORPHEE DES BLINS kept jumping and galloping and whilst TROPIC DE BRION did his best to stay with her the result was never in doubt. TREZOR crashed out at Havels Jump (the second time the fence had claimed him) but he was a distant third at the time. It was another stunning performance by the mare. Only five horses crossed the line behind her, the final casualty being Josef Vana who, when challenging for the minor honours was slightly hampered by a loose horse and was unseated at the final fence. Fortunately he was unscathed and received warm applause as he walked back up the finishing straight. Was this to be an ignominious end to his great Velka career ? 

VELKA PARDUBICKA CESKOU POJISTOVNOU - 20 runners (60 entries) 5,000,000KC (1st 2,000,000kc, 2nd 1,100,000kc, 3rd 700,000kc, 4th 500,000kc, 5th 350,000kc, 6th 200,000kc, 7th 150,000kc)

1st   ORPHEE DES BLINS - Jan Faltejsek    11, 66

2nd  NIKAS - Dusan Andres    8, 68

3rd   KLAUS - Jaroslav Myska    8, 68

4th   KASIM - Marcel Novak    8, 68

5th   PEINTRE ABSTRAIT - Lukas Matusky    7, 68

6th   TROPIC DE BRION - Marc-Antoine Dragon    6, 68

Also ran : TIUMEN - Josef Vana 12 (unseated rider 30th), TREZOR - Josef Bartos 9 (unseated rider 27th), BODYGUARD - Jaroslav Brecka 7 (pulled up 27th), SESLOST - Liam Treadwell 9 (pulled up 23rd), STATUS QUO - Pavel Kasny 7 (unseated rider 19th), ZEST FOR LIFE - Sam Waley-Cohen 9 (unseated rider 15th), SHALIMAR FROMENTRO - Alain de Chitray 7 (fell 10th), FRENEYS WELL - Martin Ferris 13 (unseated rider 7th),  TOMIS - Ondrej Velek 12 (fell 7th), BUDAPEST - Josef Vana Jnr 8 (unseated rider 6th), CANTRIDARA - Freddie Mitchell 7 (unseated rider 6th), SPERANZA - Thomas Boyer 8 (unseated rider 6th), AL JAZ - Michal Kohl 7 (unseated rider 5th), MOUNT SION - Richie McLernon 7 (fell 3rd)

Non runner : Broker

Trainer : Gregorsz Wroblewski. Time : 9 minutes, 33.22 seconds. Distances : Distance-3.5-1.5-8-neck

12th October 2014

OPHEE DES BLINS returned having had two easy wins this year at Pardubice. Could she become the first mare since Lady Anne to win three Velkas ? Once again TIUMEN (who was still without a win since this final Velka win three years ago) and TREZOR (who had won his fifth Velka qualifier on his only start this term) were her main market rivals. There were no Irish or French challengers this year. Enda Bolger and JP McManus had decided not to return to Pardubice after Mount Sion had been killed the year before. The sole foreign entrant was the Charlie Mann trained LAMBRO who whilst carrying the colours of former hero It`s A Snip did not to be frank look up to the task. On another gloriously sunny and warm autumn afternoon there was a rare false start but at the second time of asking ORPHEE DES BLINS went off in front with UNIVERSE OF GRACIE and NIKAS close up. There were a few mistakes at the first water notably from LAMBRO and SHERARDO but all twenty two runners were still standing as they made the usual charge to the Taxis. The fence that had claimed so few scalps in recent years saw chaos. NIKAS, unseated, AMARAGON took a heavy fall and several were badly hampered. Worse, ZULEJKA did not get high enough and simply fell into the ditch whilst her jockey Josef Bartos laid on his back looking like he had been killed. Poor LAMBRO who was already struggling found himself upsides ZULEJKA and, unsighted came to  complete stop as he tried to avoid the other fallers. When PEINTRE ABSTRACT threw rider Lukas Matusky into the Irish Bank (and he too looked seriously injured) it looked like we were in for another war of attrition. Fortunately things settled down and were no further incidents until the grey TER MILL unseated at the English jump twenty fences later. ORPHEE DES BLINS remained in front with UNIVERSE OF GRACIE and the veteran maiden RUBIN with his rider/trainer, the ever popular Martina Ruzickova on board. She had first ridden in the race in 1991 and was still looking to complete the course for the first time. Whilst she remained in front ORPHEE DES BLINS was not allowed to dominate as she had done in previous years and also had to contend with the attraction of two loose horses along the way. As she turned back onto the racecourse proper for the final three hurdles she still had several of her rivals close behind notably KLAUS and the outsider AL JAZZ who was making progress whilst the gallant RUBIN started to drop back. With two fences to go ORPHEE DES BLINS was clear but AL JAZZ was not going to give up and in the home straight for the first time in her Velka career this wonderful mare was shown the whip as Jan Faltejesek drove her on in a desperate finish to just hold on from the ever present AL JAZZ. In the end ORPHEE DES BLINS prevailed but only by three quarters of a length. After the grief early on in the race it was with relief to see that seventeen horses had completed the course. In a distant last place was LAMBRO who clearly hated the experience and who had had his confidence knocked out of him at the Taxis. Another terrible mistake at the big water also did not help. In front of him was TIUMEN who had toiled in rear for a second Velka in a row. The remarkable Josef Vana was now sixty one and this was his twenty eighth ride. There was a feeling that this was probably the end. A mention must be given to Martina Ruzickova on RUBIN who weakened rapidly to finish sixteenth but she would have been delighted to have finally got round safely. Sadly ZULEJKA was killed at the Taxis, the second fatality at the fence since the modifications some twenty one years previously re-opening the debate about the safety of the race and whether the ditch should be filled in for good.

VELKA PARDUBICKA CESKOU POJISTOVNOU - 22 runners (64 entries) 5,000,000KC (1st 2,000,000kc, 2nd 1,100,000kc, 3rd 700,000kc, 4th 500,000kc, 5th 350,000kc, 6th 200,000kc, 7th 150,000kc)

 1st   ORPHEE DES BLINS - Jan Falltejsek    12, 66

 2nd  AL JAZ - Josef Sovka    8, 68


 3rd   KLAUS - Jaroslav Myska    9, 68

 4th   UNIVERSE OF GRACIE - Jiri Kousek    9, 68

 5th   KASIM - Marcel Novak    9, 68

 6th   ZARIF - Marek Stromsky    7, 68

 7th   TREZOR - Ondrej Velek    10, 68

 8th   GAUNER DANON - Jan Kratochvil    8, 68

 9th   SHERARDO - Michal Kubik    10, 68

10th   PARETO - Thomas Boyer    7, 68

11th   SOROS - Josef Vana Jnr    11, 68

12th   SISI MERBLE - Jakub Kocman    6, 66

13th   CARDAM - Jaroslav Brecka    10, 68

14th   MOULA - Petr Tuma    6, 68

15th   RUBIN - Martina Ruzickova    12, 68

16th   TIUMEN - Josef Vana    13, 68

17th   LAMBRO - Mark Grant    9, 68

Also Ran : TER MILL - Michal Kohl 8 (unseated rider 25th), PEINTRE ABSTRAIT - Lukas Matusky 8 (unseated rider 5th), AMARAGON - Martin Liska 9 (fell 4th), NIKAS - Dusan Andres 9 (unseated rider 4th), ZULEJKA - Josef Bartos 9 (fell 4th)

Trained by : Gregorsz Wroblewski. Time : 9 minutes, 08.25 seconds. Distances : 3/4-13-1-3-6-5-neck-4.5-neck-7-1-distance-3/4-4 1/4-5-distance

11th October 2015

Orphee des Blins and Tiumen were both retired after the 2015 season so there would be a new champion this year. Perpetual qualifier winner Trezor was also not in the field. Also missing was Josef Vana in the saddle as, whilst he would be saddling three of the twenty two strong field, he would be watching from the stands this year. This was very much a local Velka with no runners from either Ireland or the UK - Charlie Mann, like Enda Bolger a year before him had announced that he would no longer be sending runners to Pardubice. Favourite in this new look Velka was the undoubtabley talented but very wayward RABBIT WELL. Having proved himself the best classical steeplechaser in the Czech Republic he was now being aimed at the Velka. When he was good be was very very good with three wins this season including the First of May Chase at Lysa and the August qualifier. However he had a tendency to play up at the start and it was not unusual for him to refuse to race. This happened on his third start of the season at Pardubice in June. Despite his temperament punters were prepared to take a chance on him. Next best was UNIVERSE OF GRACIE who would have Orphee des Blins jockey Jan Faltejesek on board. Winner of the May qualifier he had finished fourth the previous year. AL JAZ who had run the race of his life to nearly cause an upset the year before was also fancied although he had not won all season and the useful but inexperienced SOKOL also came in for support. He was to be ridden by Englishman Tom Garner. Mention should also be made of KLAUS, twice placed in the Velka who was making his fifth appearance in the race. For the third year running the race was run on a glorious sunny and warm autumnal afternoon and for the fourth year running Jan Faltejsek elected to make the running. UNIVERSE OF GRACIE led in the early stages from KASIM, RIBELINO and the sole foreign challenger, the French trained PASQUINI ROUGE. TER MILL made a dreadful mistake at the second but all were still standing at the Taxis. Fortunately there was not a repeat of the grim scenes of a year earlier but the big ditch did provide to much for NEBRIUS who crumpled on landing directly in the path of PARETO who was brought down. There were anxious moments for NEBRIUSs rider Jacob Kocman who was momentarily hung up in the stirrups. Yet again it was Popkovices Turn which caused problems with four coming to grief including SOKOL and moments later (and fortunately hidden from the stands behind the small wood) there was a very grim incident. A loose horse ran into PEINTRE ABSTRAIT bringing the house to the ground. As he got to his feet he appeared injured and fell to back down. Fortunately he had simply got his feet tangled in the stirrups and he was perfectly fine afterwards. Fortunately things began to calm down. UNIVERSE OF GRACIE remained in front with KASIM and HIPO JAPE close behind. TEMPLAR was making mistakes whilst ORIX was struggling in rear. At the drop fence there were mistakes form RIBELINO and GAUNER DANON. His Bulgarian jockey Sertash Ferhanov desperately clung onto the horses neck before gravity finally won out. There were no further fallers and UNIVERSE OF GRACIE remained in the lead although after the English jump there were many lining up behind him and he was looking vulnerable. REBELINO and NIKAS in particular were looking dangerous and it was NIKAS who swept past the long time leader after the third last hurdle. This was NIKAS' fourth Velka and he had twice failed to finish and was not expected to be featuring in the finish. Rider Marek Stromsky had finished first past the past in 2008 on Amant Gris but had been disqualified for missing a marker. Trainer Stanislav Popelka had been training for years but never managed to come close in the Velka. Theirs was a popular victory as NIKAS drew clear to win by three and three quarter lengths from RIBELINO and ZARIF. The favourite RABBIT WELL had consented to start but never got into the race and when he was down on his nose at the final water whatever slim chances he had evaporated. Sadly Stromskys wretched luck was to continue when NIKAS failed a post race dope test. Connections had to wait three months to learn their fate whilst the horses B sample was analysed. Traces of theobromine and caffeine were found in his urine sample, and the results were confirmed at the end of January 2016. There was no option but to disqualify NIKAS and award the race to RIBELINO. The Disciplinary Committee determined that the presence of these banned substances was due to incorrect labelling of food supplements supplied to the trainer. For this reason, and because of the trainers long-term good conduct and good  reputation, it was not necessary to punish him further. The result meant that veteran rider Pavel Kasny who had been champion jockey in the mid nineties would record his first Velka winner albeit by default.

VELKA PARDUBICKA A CESKOU POJISTOVNOU - 22 runners (58 entries) 5,000,000KC (1st 2,000,000kc, 2nd 1,100,000kc, 3rd 700,000kc, 4th 500,000kc, 5th 350,000kc, 6th 200,000kc, 7th 150,000kc

 1st   RIBELINO - Pavel Kasny    7, 68

 2nd  ZARIF - Josef Bartos    8, 68


 3rd   UNIVERSE OF GRACIE - Jan Faltejesek    10, 68

 4th   RABBIT WELL - Josef Vana Jnr    9, 68

 5th   KASIM - Marcel Novak    10, 68

 6th   LORAIN - Jaroslav Myska    8, 68

 7th   MODENA - Dusan Andres    8, 66

 8th   TEMPLAR - Kevin Guignon    8, 65

 9th   PASQUINI ROUGE - Jordan Duchene    7, 68

10th   KLAUS - Raffaele Romano    10, 68

Also Ran : HIPO JAPE - P.Tuma 9 (pulled up 29th), ORIX - V.Korytar 8 (pulled up 29th), GAUNER DANON - S.Ferhanov 9 (unseated rider 15th), AMARAGON - M.Liska 10 (fell 10th), PEINTRE ABSTRAIT - C.Chan 9 (knocked over by loose horse after 6th), AL JAZ - J.Sovka 9 (fell 6th), SHERARDO - L.Sloup 11 (hampered & unseated rider 6th), SOKOL - T.Garner 8 (fell 6th), TER MILL - O.Velek 9 (hampered & unseated rider 6th), NEBRIUS - J.Kocman  7 (fell 4th), PARETO - M.Rigo 8 (brought down 4th). NIKAS - Marek Stromsky 10 (finished 1st disqualified).

Trainer : Stanislav Kovar. Time : 8 minutes 56.01 seconds (Nikas time was 8 mins 55.29 secs). Distances : 3 3/4-3 1/2-2 1/2-5-6-1 1/2-10-6-3 1/4-3.  

9th October 2016

There was a smaller than usual entry, the Brits and Irish stayed away and of the handful of French entries none made it to Pardubice. This would be an all Czech affair both for horse and rider. Favourite was the unfortunate NIKAS who had shown some promise in the September qualifier but the more interesting prospect was Velka debutant CHARME LOOKE who had won a very competetive qualifier in August. Trained Martina Ruzickova herself a veteran of several Velkas her usual rider Barbara Malkova had been sidelined due to an injury picked up at the August meeting so Jan Faltejesek took the ride whilst Malkova had to make do with leading the horse in the preliminaries. Last years runner up, the ultra consistant ZARIF and the talented but wayward RABBIT WELL were next best in the betting. Unfortnately for his supporters RABBIT WELL decided that this was to be one of his non-going days as whilst he started his efforts lasted about five strides and he pulled himself up. UNIVERSE OF GRACIE, NIKAS, TER MILL and PARETO were amongst the early leaders with NIKAS prominent. At the Taxis NIKAS landed awkwardly and despite the luckless Stromskys efforts he was pitched out of the saddle several strides after the fence. In rear outsider REAPER also unseated and the horse came to a standstill, the reins caught up in a foreleg. As far as spectacle was concerned that was pretty much it. The fences held little fear for the twelve survivors apart from UNIVERSE OF GRACIE who ploughed through fence 10. CHARME LOOK and the grey TER MILL disputed the lead, the latter carrying his head very low, TEMPLAR, PEINTRE ABSTRAIT and HEGNUS were all prominent with ZARIF and the white faced ANGE GUARDIAN held up in rear. To be frank not a great deal happened in the race, by the second water ZARIF was making progress and CHARME LOOK and TER MILL continued to dispute the lead. TEMPLAR made a bid for glory after Havels jump as TER MILL dropped back but by three out nothing was going better than CHARME LOOK who first of all dispartched TEMPLAR and then ANGE GUARDIAN who disputed the lead at the last but had nothing more to give as CHARME LOOK extended his lead to win by a comfortable ten lengths. In all ten of the runners completed in the least eventful Velka since Peruans final win in 2000. This was Faltejeseks fourth Velka win in five years. It was a very popular victory for Martina Ruzickova who had been associated with the race since the early nineties.

VELKA PARDUBICKA CESKOU POJISTOVNOU - 15 runners (43 entries) 5,000,000KC (1st 2,000,000kc, 2nd 1,100,000kc, 3rd 700,000kc, 4th 500,000kc, 5th 350,000kc, 6th 200,000kc, 7th 150,000kc

1st    CHARME LOOK - Jan Faltejesek    9, 70

2nd   ANGE GUARDIAN - Jan Kratochvil    8, 70

3rd    ZARIF - Josef Bartos    9, 70

4th    PUNTERANAS - Josef Sovka    10, 70

5th    HEGNUS - Jiri Kousek    8, 70

6th    TER MILL - Jan Odlozil    10, 70

7th    TEMPLAR - Marcel Novak    9, 70

8th    PARETO - Jaroslav Myska    9, 70

9th    RENDEZ VOUS - Martin Liska    7, 70

10th   AMARGON - Pavel Slozil Jnr    11, 70

11th   PEINTRE ABSTRAIT - Dusan Andres    10, 70

Also ran : UNIVERSE OF GRACIE - Vlatislav Korytar 11 (unseated rider 24th), NIKAS - Marek Stromsky 11 (unseated rider 4th), REAPER - Jakub Spacil 7 (unseated rider 4th), RABBIT WELL - Josef Vana Jnr 10 (refused to race) 

Trainer : Martina Ruzickova. Time : 9 mins 42.86 secs. Distances : 10-6-2 1/2-1-1 1/4-2 1/2-3-distance-distance-2


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