Perhaps it is not surprising that he 2020 renewal of the Velka Pardubicka is an all Czech/Slovak affair this year. Due to Coronovirus 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 have been staged and a healthy eighteen of the original thirty entries have been declared. Sadly the lovely white faced Ange Guardian will not be amongst them . After winning the second qualifier he sadly broke a leg on the flat in the fourth qualifier and I dedicate this form guide to his memory.
1 p00/0-00 ALL SCATER (0/17) - Still a maiden and finished in rear on both starts this season. Only twice made the frame in his career. I cannot work out why connections feel this one has any right to line up in a Velka. Completely outclassed. Rider Veronika Skvarlova-Rezacova has been riding since 2014 and ridden 7 winners from 152 rides. This is her first Velka.
2 2p/41-u1 LODGIAN WHISTLE (6 wins from 14 starts) (2Course wins) - Not many miles on the clock but won the Labe Prize on only his second cross country appearance on this card last year. True it was a substandard running but he led from the start, jumped well and won as he liked. Found the Irish bank too much in the first qualifier this season but won the third qualifier in fine stye. He led from the sixth fence and despite appearing to slip on the flat more than once he jumped well and beat was what a small but select field. For me this has been the performance of the season so far. Jaroslav Myska will be having his eighteenth ride in the Velka. He and Marek Stromsky have ridden in more Velkas than any other jockeys without winning. Third has been his best placing.
3 212/12-2 HEGNUS (7/27) (5C) - Now at the veteran stage this one will be running in his third Velka having finished fifth in 2016 and was runner up behind Tzigane du Berlais in 2018. Also won the valuable Labe Prize on this card in 2015 and also has two qualifiers to his name. Made Theophilos work in the first qualifier on his only start. this year One for the short list. Lukas Matusky is a Slovak rider who will be having his fifth ride in the race.
4 3/300-0u BUGSIE MALONE (5/29) - Ex-UK runner who won five chases for Chris Gordon between 2015 & October 2018 including three times at Kempton. Not shown a great deal since moving to the Czech Republic (via a couple of runs in Italy). Will be having only his third start at Pardubice, finished down the field n the first qualifier and unseated at the Irish bank in August. This is a very big ask. Adam Cmiel has ridden 25 winners over jumps since 2009 He is currently enjoying his best season with 7 winners. Another Velka debutant.
5 p-01024 CATCH LIFE (ITY) (7/47) (C) - The most experienced horse in the field by some way and also the busiest this season. At twelve though he is somewhat old to making a Velka debut. He won the valuable Most Steeplechase in 2017 and has twice won at Treviso in Italy. Miased most of last season and was off the course for a year but he won a valuable chase at Bratislava in June. Ran well to chase home Lodgian Whistle in the third qualifier. Possible each way propsects. Niklas Loven is a very experienced Swedih jockey who has won everything there is to win in Scandanavia and has been riding more in the the Czech Republic in recent years. This will be his fifth Velka ride. He finished third in 2017.
6 1022-02 CASPER (FR) (4/24) (C) - Velka deubutant but he finished runner up in a supporting race last year. Second in a competitive Cat 2 race in August but did not feature in the first qualifier which doesn't suggest that he will play a part in the finish of a Velka. Bulgarian jockey Sertash Fehranov was champion jockey in 2018. He has not had much luck in five previous rides in the Velka.
7 234-00u MAZHILIS (FR) (5/35) - All his wins have come in Italy culminating with victory in their premier steeplechase, the Gran Premio di Merano in 2016. However he has not won since. Finished fourth in this last year but has not shown anything like that form this season. Two lacklustre performances in qualfiers were followed by an unseat at the Irish bank in a Cat 2 event in August. Was last years dark horse but we know more about him at Pardubice now and in the main he has been found wanting. Jiri Kousek is a veteran jockey and will be riding in the Velka for the thirteenth time. He has finished second and third.
8 313-321 SOTTOVENTO (GB) (3/21) (3C) - Winner of the fourth qualifier beating Vandual with the two being some way ahead of the opposition. Fnished third behind Lodgian Whistle in the Labe on this day last year. This years "dark" horse. Jan Kratcochvil has been champion jockey twice in 2015 & 2016 and won the Velka on his first ride on No Time To Lose in 2017. This will be his third ride.
9 f2/000-4 DULCAR DE SIVOLA (FR) (1/15) - Ex-French chaser who has been in the Czech Republic since 2018. Only victory came in a small event at Nancy in France in 2017. Finished a distant ninth of eleven finishers last year and did not feature in the first qualifier although he did stay on past tired horses to finish a distant fourth place. That placing flatters him - he has no chance whatsoever. Josef Borc has ridden 18 winners since 2006 but has not ridden a winner for over two years. This will be his second Velka. He finished ninth on Dulcar de Sivola last year.
10 2442-40 STRETTON (3/25) (2C) - Never fallen/unseated in his life - has led at the last fence in each of the past two Velkas eventually finishing third and second. Not shown much this year in two starts and was behind Player last time in August. However he proved me wrong last year when I said almost the same thing about him. One for the short-list based upon those last two Velka performances. Marek Stromsky is possibly the unluckiest jockey in Velka history. Twice he has finished first past the post and twice he has been disqualified. In 2008 Amant Gris went the wrong way round a marker during the race and in 2016 Nikas failed a post race dope test. He has twice finished second in seventeen rides.
11 200f-0f MAHONY (4/20) (4C) - Sprang a surprise to win the Labe Prize on this card in 2018 but has shown very little since. Fell at the Taxis last year and found the big English jump too much for him in a competitive Cat 2 event here in August. No realistic prospects. Hakim Tabet is a French based rider who I am afraid I know little of. He seems to ride between 6-17 winners a year. This will be his first ride in the Czech Republic.
12 004f-00 RIBELINO (FR) (4/24) (3C) (CD) - Awarded the Velka in the stewards room in 2015 but has never managed a better placing than fourth since. Unplaced in 2015 & 2018 and fell at the Taxis last year. Finished a respectable fifth in the final qualifier but once again will be one of the outsiders. This will be a sixth ride in the race for Thomas Boyer.
13 0200-03 VANDUAL (SVK) (3/21) (3C) - Slovak challenger who last won five years ago. Unplaced in the last two Velkas. Would have been on my "no-hopers list" but for his last performance when he ran superbly, making most of the running in the final qualifier and gave winner Sottovento something to think about up the run in. That performance enters him into my "outsider who could run a big race" category. The second French rider in the race Roman Julliot takes the ride. He has riddern 13 winners in France this year and will be riding in the Czech Republic for the first time.
14 3u1f-32 PLAYER (4/20) (4C) - Has never run away from Pardubice over fences. Won at this meeting three years ago. Was prominent when he appeared to fall on the flat between the two big water jumps in this last year. Close third behind Theopolis in the first quaifier and then close second in Cat 2 event wth Stretton behind him. Sorry for the pun but he will be a "player" here. Each way prospects. Marcel Novak has been champion jockey twice in 2007 and 2019 but has had little luck in eleven rides in the Velka.
15 2121-14 THEOPHILOS (FR) (7/21) (3C) (CD) - The reigning champion and winner of the first qualifier in impressive style (although he was made to work in the closing stges by Hegnus). Well beaten by Lodgian Whistle on his only other start. Last year he was my "lively outsider" . I won't insult him by classing him as such this year - he has a real chance and is likely to start favourite. Jan Odlozil has picked up a spare ride as top Czech jockey Josef Bartos injured his knee when perfoming a "Dettori" style flying dismount after he won Italys premier steeplechase, the Gran Premio di Merano in September. Odlozil will be having his fifth ride in the race.
16 10/2-20f NO TIME TO LOSE (GB) (6/24) (3C) (CD) - The 2017 hero in the most testing conditions seen at Pardubice for many years when he snatched the lead half way up the run-in to deny longtime leader Urgent de Gregaine and Felix de Gilles. Only won once since and wa never a factor in the 2018 race. Missed last years Velka through injury. This year he has been running in shorter races and showed a return to form on his seasonal debut but he was in rear throughout the third qualifier behind Lodgian Whistle and took a heavy fall on his last race. Cannot see him featuring in the finish. Jacob Kocman will be riding in his third Velka. He has ridden 35 winners in his career which started in 2007.
17 21/20f-0 TZIGANE DU BERLAIS (FR) (4/23) (CD) - The winner in 2018 and very impressive he was too. However he has not reproduced that form and fell at the Taxis last year (although it looked more of a brought down to me when I watched the race again). Never featured in the final qualifier on hs only start since then but it is possible he was just hacking round to ensure qualification. The fact he has done so little since his finest hour suggests that we should leave this one alone. British racegoers will be familiar with Jan Faltejesek who rode with success for Alistair Charlton and is the only Czech to have ridden in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He has also ridden with success in France and is currently leading the jockeys championship. He has ridden in fourteen Velkas and has won the race five times in the last eight years.
18 1/100-33 TALENT (6/20) (5C) - Lumbered with my selection in 2019 (after an impressive performance in the September qualifier) this lightly raced individual disappointed and could only finish seventh in the big one. He has raced in two qualifiers this year and finished third both times but did not feature in the final one. Will still be on many shortlists but I will look elsewhere this year. Martin Liska has ridden in eleven Velkas. Fourth has been his best placing.