Good friend Alex Gould, who likes his racing on the continent as well as his UK pointers, has kindly provided a preview of the runners for this weekend’s big steeplechase from the Czech Republic. I’ve been there to watch it live, with Alex and a few others, and if you’ve never been do add it to your bucket list; with the added benefit of being able to spend time in Prague also. (and the pilsner was very cheap)
If you missed Alex’s recent 15 UK Pointers To Follow article, you can find it HERE >>>
Over to Alex…
Velká Pardubická preview for Sunday 10th October 2021, the 131 running of the big race.
The race is set to go off at 14.45 (RTV usually show it)
A few quick stats for the race –
- The race is over 6900 metres with 31 obstacles to jump.
- The controversial Taxis jump has been changed this year after last year’s horrific scenes and in theory should be easier to navigate.
- Prize money is 3 million Czech krona (110k).
- In the last 10 years we have had a range of winner aged between 7 and 12.
- Jan Faltejsek has ridden 5 wins in that time but does not have a ride for Dr Charvet this time.
- The biggest price winner was 55/1 and there have been four odds on winners.
- Last year was won by 12-year-old Hegnus in a time of 9 minutes 23 seconds and he lines up again.
- This year 18 will go to post on what is looking like will be good, good to firm ground. No doubt a good covering of grass in places, apart from the plough!
- Last year’s 3rd Vandual was declared but is now injured and retired.
- There are no Irish or British runners but top Irish “amateur” Patrick Mullins does have a ride on Kaiserwalkzer.
In race card order here, we go –
Is a 9-year-old French mare who has raced 70 times in her career, winning 4 races. Her last victory was in November 2020 at Craon. She does have experience in cross country races but is yet to tackle the Pardubice course.
She is trained by Pavel Vitek in Puchlovice but he has only trained 1 Czech winner since 2019. She will be ridden by French jockey Jordan Duchene who has ridden 5 French winners this year. Jordan has also ridden 3 Czech winners in his career.
Vanesse looks to have it all to do and should not be troubling the judge.
Quickly to the horse I think most people will want to be reading about. Evzen is just a 7-year-old gelding by So you think and trained by Stepenka Myskova at Kolesa, just West of Pardubice. Stepenka has trained 6 winners from 29 runners in the Czech Republic this year. Evzen will be ridden by partner of Stepenka, Jaroslav Myska. Jaroslave is one of the older jockeys riding and has had a successful career riding winners in his homeland, Slovakia, Poland and Italy. This season he has ridden 10 winners from 57 rides in Czech racing.
Evzen won at this meeting last year in the Cena which is basically a race for Novices before tackling the big race. There was serious consideration to throwing him straight into the Velka but that decision to wait a season could prove a wise one.
This season Evzen has run twice. He made his comeback in May and went off a short price favourite but actually came last of 14 runners. He was found to have cut his leg and lost 2 shoes.
In June he ran again in a qualifier for the Velka and simply put, destroyed the opposition having many of his rivals well beaten behind, in a time of 7 minutes 47 seconds over 5800 metres.
Kept fresh for the big race he looks to have an outstanding chance. He has already been the subject of two big money offers from leading UK owners as he looks a perfect Aintree Grand National horse in the making. So far joint owner Zbynek Englic has stood strong and rejected the offers. I spoke to Zbynek today and he said “Everything is good, I think he can win”. Zbynek has also stated he might bring the horse to Cheltenham for the cross-country race there.
Should everything go to plan, he is the best horse in the race and could pick this lot up and carry them but will lack of experience be his undoing?
8-year-old German bred gelding who will have his supporters. Trained by Jaroslav Brecka who has trained 9 winners this season. Kaiserwalzer has mainly raced in Slovakia but does have Czech and Parducbice experience. He has been ridden in the past by Thomas Garner and Leighton Aspell, who British racing fans will know well.
Last year he ran in the Cena and was a well beaten 5th behind Evzen. This season he has had 3 runs including last time out winning the final qualifier for this race beating a couple of today’s opponents Theophilos and Mahe King in a time of 7 minutes 37 seconds over the 5800-meter track.
A first ride for Patrick Mullins who should enjoy a nice spin but his form shows him a level below the best and he would need others to falter to trouble the judge.
9-year-old gelding by Martaline. A tough likeable sort who has raced 28 times and won 4 but his last win was back in August 2019. He however does always run his race and should give supporters a shout throughout the race. An excellent jumper will always stand him well.
He is trained by Dalibor Torok who has trained 9 Czech winners from 75 runs this season.
He will be ridden by jockey Daniel Vyhnalek who has ridden 9 winners this season from 121 rides, he has also ridden Casper in his last 3 races.
Casper has run 3 times this season coming 5th, 3rd and 4th.
He should run a fine race but will probably be short of winning.
The 2019 champion returns and looks to regain his crown after faltering last year.
The first of several Josef Vana trained horses who has trained 27 winners this season in the Czech Republic.
Top jockey Josef Bartos will once again take the ride. Big Joe as he is known is like a fine wine and gets better and better with age. Last week he won the big race at Merano in Italy where he leads the jump jockey’s championship. He has ridden 30 winners’ home and abroad this season.
Things seem to have gone slightly astray for Theophilos since winning in 2019 in a time of 9 minutes 28 seconds.
Last year he could only finish 9th.
This year he has only had two runs both at Pardubice coming 5th in May and 2nd behind Kaiserwalzer last time out when beaten 2 lengths off level weights.
He is sure to have his supporters and could bounce back, he has the experience and will get every assistance from the saddle but it requires a leap of faith to back him which much confidence but Vana knows what he is doing!
10-year-old Chestnut gelding by the now sadly deceased super star stallion Egerton.
A veteran of 23 cross country races winning 6 of them. He has run in the Velka twice before.
In 2019 he came 7th behind Theophilos with Leighton Aspell riding and last year he came 4th beaten around 2 lengths behind Hegnus with the same jockey Pavel Slozil riding.
Slozil is getting plenty of opportunities these days and rides in Italy quite a bit. This season he has ridden 140 races winning 22 times.
Talent is trained by Hana Kabelkova who has only trained 2 winners this season.
Talent has run 3 times this season, his best run coming 3rd at Merano in Italy behind superstar Broughton.
Last time out at Pardubice he ran an ok race but was behind Casper by 1.75 lenghts but did carry 2.5kg more.
I would not rule Talent out but he could be one for the places rather than win material.
DULCAR DE SIVOLA
8-Year-old by gelding who has only won once in his career. He has run in the last 2 Velka’s coming 9th in 2019 and 11th in 2020.
Trainer Stanislav Kovar has not trained a winner this year. Jockey Petr Tuma is another veteran but doesn’t ride many winners. He looks certain to struggle.
Jockey Jan Kratochvil made a big decision last year and left the yard of Josef Vana where he was number two jockey behind Josef Bartos and became the retained jockey for owners Lokotrans. He is a fine pilot and has ridden 18 winners this season. He is a regular in Italy, Poland and Slovakia.
Mr Spex is trained by Lubos Urbanek on Boskovic. He has trained 20 winners this season and 2 of his last 5 runners have won so the stable is in good form.
Mr Spex has run in 12 cross country races winning 3. His last victory was at this meeting in 2019 when ridden by another UK jockey Andrew Glassonbury.
This season Mr Spex has run twice coming 7th both times. He still has time on his side and won’t be lacking from the saddle. I think he could run well at a big price and could suit somebody who likes an outsider.
9-year-old Chestnut Gelding by Moonjaz.
Last season’s runner up when beaten 1.75 lengths by Hegnus.
He ran an incredible race last year under Marcel Novak who rides again. Marcel usually rides in his homeland and has ridden 5 winners this season.
Lenka Kvapilova trains Player in Dubnice but has only trained 1 winner this season.
Player made his comeback in May and came 4th behind No time to lose and Casper. Last time out in September was a well beaten second.
There is every suggestion this course specialist is coming to the boil and is primed for another huge run. The question is how good was last year’s race?
13-Year-old gelding whose sire was Polish and dam was Slovakian. The reigning champion and back to defend his title.
Radek Holcak now holds the training license in his own name after the retirement of his father.
A veteran of 24 cross country races with 6 wins to his name. Last season under the same pilot Lukas Matusky he came with a hard late run to beat Player in a time of 9 minutes 23 seconds. It was a terrific performance by this bull of a horse. There is a question about how good last year’s race was and did it just all fall into place for Hegnus.
My main concern is the stable form and the fact we have only seen Hegnus once since last year’s race.
Holcak has trained 12 winners this year but for such a big powerful stable this is low.
We have only seen Hegnus once this year at Pardubice in June where he was ridden by lesser jockey Adam Cmiel and he was a well beaten 5th behind Evzen.
So, we ask the question is this part of the plan for a 13-year-old to keep the miles off the clock or has he had a problem? We don’t know.
On a positive note, he has the experience, is reigning champion, comes here fresh and has the better jockey back on top.
8-Year-old Irish bred gelding by Oscar.
He has only won 1 race in his career and that was back in May 2019. He failed to get around in the Cena last year and this season he has run 3 times in Slovakia and Czech Republic without troubling the principals. Let’s hope he keeps out of the way.
11-Year-old gelding who is a veteran to these types of races. He has 3 career wins to his name but the last was back in June 2018. It is thought he blew his big chance back in the Velka in 2019 when under Thomas Garner he led on the run in before being outstayed by Theophilos, he was 3rd in the race in 2018. In 2020 he came 8th behind Hegnus.
This season he las looked to be underperforming coming 8th, 3rd and 8th. A fine horse but seems to be on the downgrade? Can he bounce back in a race he knows well and has placed form.
10-Year-old grey (White these days) who knows how to win. From 29 races he has won 9 but is yet to win a cross country race. Last year he ran in one of the lesser races and came 8th.
This season we have seen him three times in Slovakia and Czech Republic where he has run 2nd, 2nd and 4th. The placed runs were in small field races.
He is trained and ridden by Jaroslav Brecka. All his form is below the required standard but he knows how to win. Everyone loves a grey!?
NO TIME TO LOSE
The 2017 champion is back. Another piece of masterful training by Josef Vana. Now aged 12 by super sire Authorized he has won 5 of his 16 cross country races.
In 2017 he won the Velka in a time of 9 minutes 39 seconds. In 2018 he came 5th and then clearly had some troubles. Last year he didn’t finish. However, this season we have seen the No Time To Lose of old, despite his age.
He has won both his races in May (7 minutes 45 seconds over 5800) and September (4 minutes 3 seconds over 3300) under the same pilot Ondrej Velek who has ridden 13 winners this year.
Last time out he simply demolished the field winning as he liked. The noises coming from the Vana stable are strong for him, he is fit, well, in form, well trained and ridden. Has the experience of the race and looks sure to carry much of the local money. I think he will go off favourite and surely will go close.
Tissue 7/2 FAV
The youngest horse in the race being only 6 so has time on his side. He is by sire Adlerflug who sired the Arc winner at the weekend.
Another horse who knows what it feels like to stand in the winner’s enclosure having won 4 from 7 career races.
He won in June around the course in a minor race in a time of 7 minutes 20 seconds over 5200 metres. Last time ran probably his career best race coming 3rd behind Kaiserwalzer and Theophilos beaten 2 and 3.5 lengths off level weights in a time of 7 minutes 37 seconds over 5800 meters.
Another horse from the Vana stable and had the added advantage of top jockey Jan Faltejsek on top. It must be noted that Faltejsek missed his rides last week due to injured ribs, is he fully fit?
A very interesting horse but surely, he lacks the experience, hustle and bustle in this type of race but one to follow moving forward.
Only 1 win to his name. Failed to get around in 2019 and has hardly been seen since.
Looks the outsider.
Another veteran of the big races around Europe but it seems father time is starting to catch up on this 12-year-old who has not won since September 2018.
He has not really fired in his previous two attempts in the race and this could just be another race before tackling the Crystal Cup at Wroclaw in Poland.
He did run 2nd to the jolly No time to lose back in May beaten 4.5 lengths off level weights, but then only came 4th in Poland since.
Trainer Greg Wroblewski has had a great season with 11 winners all over Europe and 2 of his last 4 runners have won. Top Bulgarian jockey Sertash Ferhanov takes the ride. I don’t know if this race will be on Betfair exchange but if it is you might get a bigger price in running as Ferhanov does like to ride them cold. Will he get too far behind?
10-year-old with 4 career wins to his name. He is trained by Stanislav Popelka in Hvozd who has trained 7 winners from 81 runs this season.
On top will be top jockey Jan Odlozil who is a regular jockey in Slovakia and Italy. He has ridden 14 winners this season and is a fine pilot.
Lombargini came 2nd last year in the Cena behind Evzen beaten 5 lengths off level weights, and this year has just raced once winning very easily under Odlozil. He had plenty of today’s rivals behind him and will surely have come on more for the run.
Everything looks in his favour and he looks primed for a big run.
VANDUAL – NON RUNNER
My thanks to Alex, and best of luck with any bets,