Time for The Big One: Velká Pardubická
The 128th Running of Velká Pardubická on Sunday, October 14 is one of the biggest days on the Czech sports calendar, and well worth the experience. Photo caption: Dostihový Spolek / Milan Křiček.
Brno, Oct. 9 (BD) – Like famous people, Velká Pardubická, the annual Czech steeplechase horse race, is generally known by only the first word: Velká. It translates to “Big” or “Large”. And it’s true in many ways.
- The tradition is expansive: The running this Sunday will be the 128th.
- The prize money is the largest on the racing calendar: 5,000,000kc.
- The course is long: 6.9 kilometers.
- The number of obstacles is formidable: 31, making it one of the most difficult and dangerous horse races in the world.
- The audience is always impressive: tens of thousands of people will be at the track in Pardubice and more than a couple million around the country will tune in to the live broadcast.
- And, of course, the horses and the jockeys are the best that the country has to offer.
Basically, Velká is a highlight of the Czech calendar that should not be missed.
Velká Pardubická will be run at the racecourse in Pardubice on Sunday as the highlight of an eight-race card. The first race of the day is at 11:30 a.m. Velká will go to post at 4:40 p.m.
No Time To Lose is back to defend his title and could add another Velká victory for jockey/trainer Josef Váňa.
Váňa is a legend worth his life-sized statue at the trackside entrance to the main grandstand. He won the race as a jockey eight times and he will saddle three horses in this year’s race — defending-champion No Time To Lose (GB), 9 years old; Zarif (IRE), 11; and Ange Guardian (GER), 10.
No Time To Lose lost his regular rider when Jan Kratochvil was injured last month. No Time To Lose, who was listed as the 2.25-to-1 favorite by Tipsport after the Friday draw, will now be ridden by Váňa’s son, Josef Váňa, Jr.
“The day is more than just racing. The racetrack is infused with a festival atmosphere.”
Tzigane Du Berlais (5.50-1) and Ange Guardian (6.50-1) are also top horses. Tzigane Du Berlais will be ridden by Jan Faltejsek, who won Velká with Charme Looke in 2016 and guided the filly Orphee des Blins to victories in 2012, 2013, and 2014. Ange Guardian won two of the four qualifying races this year and finish second in a third. Ribelino, who won the race in 2015, is also in the race; he will be ridden by James Best.
Overall, this year’s running is a domestic affair with 21 horses who train in the Czech Republic and one who trains in the Slovak Republic.
The day is more than just racing. The racetrack is infused with a festival atmosphere. The garden in the back has food booths, souvenir stands and horse-themed displays. There are several tents for corporate events. And there is a regular flow of people around the grounds.
In between the eight races, true racing fans will move between the paddock (in order to watch the horses before the race) and the racetrack (in order to watch the horses race). Gamblers have many betting windows, although it is advisable to place bets early if you really want to lay some money down.
“Even if you don’t bet, it is fun to pick the best names or the best-looking horses.”
Everything rises to a fever pitch for Velká. As the 4:40 p.m. post time approaches, the collective anticipation builds to a huge roar when the flag is dropped to start the race. Tension and nervousness follow the horses around the expansive racecourse and over the many barriers. As the field enters the homestretch for the final, exhausted push for victory, the entire grandstand erupts.
Even if you don’t bet, it is fun to pick the best names or the best-looking horses. The full field, with the odds on the initial betting line, are:
No Time To Lose (2.25-1)
Tzigane Du Berlais (5.50-1)
Ange Guardian (6.50-1)
Delight My Fire (25-1)
Ter Mill (55-1)
Universe Of Gracie (100-1)
Each horse has a story and many days of training that brought them to peak condition. After all, this race is Velká.
Pardubice is a small city that is between Prague and Brno. The train is a convenient choice because it on a popular line. In fact, it is probably fast than taking a car and the parking hassle is eliminated with a shuttle bus or an easy 1.5-kilometer walk.
General admission tickets are available at the entrance gates. Seats have already sold out.
Click here for more information on the English-language site.
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