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Form Guide for 2022 Velka Pa

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Velka Pardubicka Steeplechase

2020

2020 the year of Covid. Due to the Coronovirus pandemic racing did not start in the Czech Republic until  18th May with an all flat card at Most. Amazingly, despite only staging the first Velka qualfier in early July all four qualifiers were staged and a healthy eighteen of the original thirty entries were declared. Sadly the lovely, white faced, Ange Guardian was not amongst them. After winning the second qualifier he sadly broke a leg on the flat in the fourth qualifier. Perhaps not surprisingly the 2020 renewal of the Velka Pardubicka was an all Czech/Slovak affair. There were four previous winners in the field (if you counted RIBELINO) but to be honest three could be discounted as RIBELINO, TZIGANE DU BERLAIS and NO TIME TO LOSE (who had missed last years race through inury) had won a race between them since their respective Velka triumph. THEOPHILOS, the reigning champion did look to have credentials to be a dual winner winning the first qualifier from the veteran HEGNUS. If it was an even year then HEGNUS wud be running, fifth in 2016 and runner up in 2018 he had made THEOPHILOS work for his qualifier victory. It was his only start but this former qualifier winner and Labe Prize victor had to be respected. SOTTOVENTO looked to be the dark horse having won the fourth qualifier and my money (quite literally this year as for the first time in my racing career I had opened an online betting account) was on Velka debutant LODGICIAN WHISTLE who had beeaten SOTTOVENTO in the Labe Prize last year and won the third qualifier which I felt was the best form of the year. Could rider Jaroslav Myska finaly win at the eighteenth attempt ? Whilst the Czech Republic had been one of the few European countries not to have been hit so hard in the first wave of Covid by the autum the Alpha variant was raging throughout the country and the decision was made to stage the Velka behind closed doors. The meeting was reduced to one day with a bumper ten race card starting at 10:33 with the Velka due to go off at 16:48. Czech TV was broadcasting the entire card to the forced to be armchair fans for the day. It was eerie indeed to see the eighteen strong field parade in front of a handful of officials and connections. HEGNUS, PLAYER, STRETTON and a former UK trained horse BUGSIE MALONE were all prominent early with LODGICIAN WHISTLE towards the back. The Taxis claimed two, surprisingly NO TIME TO LOSE and SOTTOVENTO who didn't clear the ditch and came down in a very gruseome looking fall. Rank outsider AL SCATER (possibly the worst Velka runner of recent years) found the Irish Bank too much and Popkvoces Turn claimed CATCH LIFE and his Swedish jockey Niklas Loven. As far as thrills and spills were concerned that was it although the riderless CATCH LIFE did his best to cause problems for Marek STomsly and STRETTON who were leading and nearly carried out at the marker after fence 10. It would have been very ironic if Stromsky had been carried out there as this was where he lost the 2008 Velka on Amant Gris. It was notable that THEOPHILOS was not amongt the leaders and TZIGANE DU BERLAIS was positively struggling in rear having climbed over the tenth fence. LODGICIAN WHISTLE had taken the lead by Poplars Rails where the usually dependale MAHZLIS made a mistake. LODGICIAN WHISTLE, the SLovak challenger VAnDUAL, PLAYER, MAHZLIS and TALENT were amongst the leaders over the two big water jumps. LODGICIAN WHISTLE surrendered the lead shortly afterwads and the race became something of a dual up front between PLAYER and VANDUAL who was clearly coming into form a the right time. He has not won for fve years but had finished a close third in the final qualifier. He jumped Havels better than PLAYER and, as the horses entered the steeplechase course to take the final three fences, none was going better and the chances of the first Slovak winner of the Velka since Quirinus in 1992 was looking on the cards. PLAYER was still in second with old-timer HEGNUS breathing down their necks. TALENT was not far behind. LODGICIAN WHISTLE was by now a distant fifth with TZIGANE DU BERLAIS staying on. THEOPHILOS was not in contention. HEGNUS, going the shortest way on the inner was upsides VANDUAL and PLAYER at he last whilst TALENT too was making groud. The four were in a line up the home straight but by now HEGNUS going the best, PLAYER , VANDUAL and TALENT made a line of three fghting for the minor honours. For the second year wrunning we had an exciting closely fought finish. HEGNUS always had the advantage but it was close as PLAYER, VANDUAL and TALENT crossed the line together. Sadly that was it for racing at Pardubice this year. Covid prevented all but one more meeting (at Prague) being run for 2020 and we went into the winter hoping that the world would change and that crowds would be back for 2021.

2021

The crowds were back and Pardubice was packed to the rafters once more. Sadly for the first time since I started this website there was no Velka form guide with the site on hiatus for a year. I would have told you that previous winner HEGNUS looked like a good thing and my wife was on TALENT. The start was pretty poor this year with a number (STAR, VANESSE and PARIS EIFFFEL) missing the break and they were already strung out as they charged towards the Taxis with PLAYER to the fore along with SZTORM, STRETTON and the Slovak trauned KAISERWALZER who was ridden by leading Irish amateur jockey Patrick Mullins. PLAYER led  at the Taxis but didn't get far enough, landed too steeply and crashed to the ground. KAISERWALZER appeared to jump the fence fine but within a stride Mullins was out of the saddle. The grey STAR was very awkward and just cleared the massive ditch but only two were out of the race. Both the Irish bank and Popkovices Turn caused no problem this year (although again STAR struggled over the latter). Outsider LOMBARGINI fell at the seventh as SZTORM, STRETTON and BEAU ROCHELAIS led across the plough joined by the riderless KAISERWLZER.  At the In and Out there was drama, the looes horse cut across the field, STRETTON managed to clear the fence but both SZTORM and BEAU ROCHELAIS were  carried out. BEAU ROCHELAIS was put to the fence again and continued some way behind the rest of the field. As the survivors made their way around the infamous marker between fences 10 & 10A the grey STAR, who had been some way adrift early on pulled his way into the front rank, veteran jockey Jaroslav Brecka was having difficulty steadying him. MR SPEX and EFZEN were prominen behind STRETTON. At fence 10A former winner THEOPHILOS crashed to the ground in an ugly looking fall hampering several of those behind him including PARIS EIFFEL who unseated his rider. Last years hero HEGNUS was running prominently and had moved his way to the front by the water jumps. It was notable that having been some way behind the others BEAU ROCHELAIS had made up some considerable ground despite still trailing. There were no more fallers and the leaders over the rest of the cross country course remained EVZEN, STAR, STRETTON, HEGNUS and the improving TALENT. Jaroslav Myska on board EVZEN held a clear lead two out and Myska must have been thinking his nineteen year wait for a Velka winner was coming to an end. TALENT and Pavel SLzil Jnr though had other ideas and half way up the run in Myskas heart was broken as TALENT swept into the lead. A case of third time lucky. Myska will have to see if he can make it twentieth time lucky next year.

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