High-quality entries for the Velka Pardubicka
There may be fewer entries than in past years for the 126th running of the Velka Pardubicka with Česká pojišťovna, but they include plenty of interesting horses. Forty-three horses, five of them from abroad, were included in the first round of entries for the highpoint of our steeplechasing season on October 9th. The foreign horses well could provide high-quality competition for the Czech-trained entries.
All the big-name Czech-trained horses have been entered. Many of them have experience of running in the Velka Pardubicka, or have won major races. As expected, Nikas – first past the post last year, but subsequently disqualified, and Ribelino, which was awarded the race – are among the entries. Last year’s winner of the Vltava Stakes on VP day, Charme Look, is entered. Hegnus, winner of the Labe Stakes on last year’s VP day, is also entered, together with Rabbit Hawk Wing and Vandual. These three are all going for the VP for the first time this year. Other entries that have already won a good race this year are Power Zar, winner of the Opening Crosscountry Steeplechase at Pardubice, and Ange Guardian, winner of the First of May Steeplechase at Lysá nad Labem. Experienced entries include Zarif, Klaus, Kasim, Sherardo and Universe of Gracie, which is now being trained again by Lenka Horáková, the only woman trainer to have won the Velka Pardubicka (with Peruán, 1998, 1999 and 2000). This year, nine female trainers have entered horses.
Josef Váňa, snr, is the trainer with the largest number of entries – five. The trainer himself is considering riding Rabbit Hawk Wing. Trainer Čestmír Olehla has four entries. Other trainers have one or two entries. Pavel Tůma has somewhat surprisingly entered Cherwick, which has already on several occasions shown that he does not fancy the Irish Bank, which in included in the VP qualification races and also in the Velka itself.
The foreign competition consists of three horses from France, one from Ireland and one from Slovakia. Trainer Patrice Quinton is trying his luck again this year, with two entries. Instead of last year’s VP runner, Pasquini Rouge, which finished 9th, he is considering sending 8-y-o Un Fou and 7-y-o Roi Garry, which recently ran very well in the longest race in the world, the Prix Anjou-Loire Challenge over 7300 metres at Lion d’Anjou. 7-y-o Vinga is an even bigger star, as she finished first in that race. She is trained in France by Emmanuel Clayeux. Clayeux also entered a horse for the VP last year, Torpille d’Ainay, but she did not make the journey to Pardubice. Ireland is represented among the entries by Bless the Wings, trained by Gordon Elliot. This gelding has run with success in crosscountry races at Cheltenham and in the Irish Grand National. Gordon Elliot trains Don Cossack, the winner of this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup. These five foreign horses are joined by Peer Cooper, trained in Slovakia by Jaroslav Brečka. Ridden by Brečka, Peer Cooper won a small race on the first day of the racing season at Pardubice this year.
The connections have further opportunities to enter more horses for the Velka, with deadlines for supplementary entries on August 25th and September 15th. In order to qualify for the 126th running of the Velka Pardubicka with Česká pojišťovna, a horse must complete at least one of the four qualification races at Pardubice racecourse (or a race abroad that is recognized as equivalent). Last year’s winner, Ribelino, qualifies automatically.