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Form Guide for 2022 Velka Pa

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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 in early November. Racing takes place mostly at weekends. Whilst there used to regularly be one meeting on a Saturday and one on Sunday in recent years the number of meetings has been in decline and there will be weekends with just one meeting scheduled. They will also race on the occasional public holiday.


Racing at Pardubice

Racecourse Pardubice | Where to go | On the Track of Horse Hooves Pardubice stages between nine and ten days sport a year. 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) including a prestiguous "Pardubice St Leger" which used to take place on the eve of the Velka only now takes place in the form of bumpers which are started by flag. 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 as well as 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) which 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 part of the supporting card on Velka day 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 (2003 & 2004) (won the June qualifier four times between 2002 & 2005)
DECENT FELLOW (2006) (also won June qualifier in 2007 & August qualifier in 2003)
NO TIME TO LOSE (2017) (won August qualifier in 2018 & May qualifier in 2021) 
SIXTEEN (2007 & 2008) (also won August qualifier in 2009)
CHARME LOOK (2016) (also won August qualifier in 2017)
THEOPHILOS (2019) (won first qualifier in 2020)
HEGNUS (2020) (won September qualifier in 2015 & May qualifier in 2019)
TALENT (2021) (won May qualifier in 2018 & September qualifier in 2019)
*Nikas who finished first past the post but was disqualified in 2015 won the May qualifier in 2014

HORSES - MOST WINS 1994-2021

5 - TREZOR (May 2012, June 2013-14 & August 2012-13)
5 - ANGE GUARDIAN (June & September 2018, June & August 2019 & qualifier in 2020)
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 - CHARME LOOK (August 2016 & 2017)
2 - GOSCATER (September 2016 & June 2017) 
2 - HEGNUS (September 2015 & May 2019)
2 - KASIM (May 2016 & August 2014)
2 - MONING LET (June 2008 & September 2007)
2 - NO TIME TO LOSE (August 2018 & May 2021)
2 - RETRIEVER (May 2004-05)
2 - VALLDEMOSO (September 2010-11)
2 - TALENT (May 2018 & September 2019)
2 - ZARIF (June 2015 & May 2017)

Jockeys - ridden most qualifier winners 1994-2021

12 - Josef Bartos
 9 -  Jan Faltejesek & Jaroslav Myska
 7 -  Dusan Andres & Josef Vana
 5 -  Jiri Kousek & Pavel Slozil
 4 -  Peter Gehm, Marcel Novak & Marek Stromsky
 3 - Radek Havelka & Jiri Kamenicek
 2 - Jan Kratochvil, Zdenek Lasek, Lukas Matusky, Jan Odlozil, Liam Treadwell, Josef Vana Jnr & Ondrej Velek

Leading Trainers 1994-2021

29 - Josef Vana 
16 - Cestmir Olehla
  7 - Hana Kabelkova

Other Czech Racecourses

There are currently nine racecourses that stage racing in the Czech Republic and all stage some form of jump racing


Brno

Left handed, square shape course, barely six furlongs round. Figure of eight steeplechase course with relatively easy hedges and a water jump. The racecourse is next door to the cities airport so one for a city break visit one day. Staged three days sport in 2019 with a meeting in April, June and the week before the Velka in October.


Karlovy Vary

Right handed course of a mile and a quarter. Very attractive with the most wonderful ornate wooden stands. This is primarily a flat track having dug up the old cross country course in 2003 replacing it with a golf course. Steeplechases are still held on the flat course with very flimsy obstacles (which are barely hurdles) which are folded away after use. Since 2016 it has been the home of the Czech Oaks. Races between April & September.


Kolesa

Right handed course of seven furlongs. Very interesting cross country course comprising a number of hedges and the countries only water splash. Has been reduced to staging just one meeting in November to close the Czech season.


Lysa nad Labem

Left handed. Woodland setting. Home of the First of May Steeplechase which traditionally is the first major prize of the cross country season. Small course barely seven furlongs round. Fences are easy with an Irish Bank taken on the cross country events. Hurdle races take place on the flat course. Usually stages between three and four meetings a year.


Most

A triumph of Czech engineering as the course was built on the former site of an open cast mine. The racecourse is just under a mile and a quarter round and is right handed. Steeplechases are held on a figure of eight course in the middle which to my mind is modelled on Merano. There was a six furlong course which started from a chute and dissected the course in the middle but that is no longer used. Between 1998 and 2015 it staged the Czech Oaks. Only a handful of steeplechases are staged here at present although the Velka Mostecka remains a valuable conventinal steeplechase. About eight meetings are staged.


Netolice

Left handed of just under a mile round. Steeplechase events take place over an oval course consisting of easy obstacles. The cross country course used only for the Velka Netolicka is quite tough, large ditch in front of the stands takes some jumping and there is one of the steepest Irish banks seen in Europe to negotiate. Just one days sport usually held in August.


Prague (Velka Chuchle)

Left handed, opened in 1906. This is the home of Czech flat racing staging all classics save for the Oaks. The course is 2180 metres round. Trotting takes place on Saturdays on the inner trotting track. The occasional hurdle race takes place on a separate hurdles course. Steeplechasing disappeared in the eighties and one rather fearsome obstacle survives near the entrance to the home straight. The rather monstrous stands were opened in April 1991 replacing a number of much smaller and more ornate buildings. The number of meetings has been cut back in recent years.


Slusovice

The only course in the eastern province of Moravia was opened in 1981. Heavily used during the communist era it fell upon hard times in the early noughties but has revived its fortunes with the reintroduction of its own version of the Velka which is now the last major steeplechase of the season. Left handed course of just under seven furlongs round. Hurdle events staged on the flat course. There is little difference between the steeplechase and cross country course, just one obstacle in fact a large Irish Bank at the exit of the back straight. All other fences which are part of a figure of eight course are fairly easy but there is a tricky water jump in front of the stands. As for those stands, impossible to describe, one of the strangest buildings seen on a racecourse. Go to Google images. Five meetings were staged in 2019


Number of racedays 2002 onwards

The number of racedays and races run has delined quite considerably since 2002 when there was a total of 70 days sport (in a year where the second half of the season was severley impacted by floods) to 52 in 2019, the year before the COVID pandemic severely resticted the sport. Part of the decline is due to the reduction in meetings at Pragues Velka Chucle racecourse but there has also been a reduction at Most which now only stages a handful of jumps events. The other reason is the loss of some of the smaller venues, Benesov which had been in decline for some time ceased racing in 2016 whilst the wonderful Albertovec course which had an iconic chute in the centre folded after seven years. Small Mimon which had extended its programme but was often hit by rock hard ground and very small fields has not raced since 2018. More recently the one day jumps meeting at Svetla Hora in the summer has disappeared. None of these programmes have been replaced. However never rule out these venues re-opening, Albertovec was resurrected in 2006 after a seventeen year hiatus.

020304050607080910111213141516171819202122232425
Praha1519222121222122212015131920181618141111
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 3 3 3 1 2
Karlovy Vary 8 8 9 7 6 6 5 6 6 6  4 5 6 6  7 7 7 7 6 6
Kolesa 3 3 2 2 3 3 3 2 1 4 3 3 4 3 3 2 1 2 - 1
Lysa nad Labem 4 5 5 4 3 3 3 6 5 6 6 7 6 6 2 4 3 3 3 5 
Mimon -  1 1 2 1 2 2 2 2 2 - - - 2 3  4 4 - - -
Most10 7 9 9 8 8 8 8 8 7 6  7 6 5 5 7 6 7 4 5
Netolice 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1  1 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Pardubice12121111101010101010101210101010 9 9 7 9
Radislavice  -  1 1 1 1 1 - 1 1 - -  - - - - - - - - -
Slusovice 8 1 4 2 3 2  4 4 4 4 3 3 5 5 4 2 6 5 3 4
Svetla Hora 1 1 1 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 RacesJumps Races
2002374172
2003333129
2004377161
2005333161
2006351168
2007348168
2008350173
2009364184
2010358173
2011364175
2012311154
2013321158
2014328163
2015335150
2016309148
2017299152
2018317142
2019280122
2020210 83
2021248105
2022
2023
2024
2025
2026

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