IRISH TRAINED DUO IN VELKA PARDUBICKA BID
Written on 06/10/23 by Darren Thrussell – email@example.com
TWO runners from the stables of Irish trainer Peter Maher add an international flavour to the 133rd renewal of one of the world’s most famous steeplechases, the Velka Pardubicka at Pardubice in the Czech Republic, which takes place on Sunday.
Maher, based in Country Kildare, sends over JET FIGHTER and ALPHA MALE, who experienced the fearsome Pardubice fences last month, coming home seventh and eighth respectively in a class 2 chase over 4500 metres. Irish jockey Sean O’Keeffe, who rode a winner at Gowran Park last weekend, will be aboard Jet Fighter, which Czech rider Petr Tuma, who rode Jet Fighter at Pardubice last month, switches to Alpha Male on Sunday. A winner of an Irish point to point race at Monksgrange in March, Jet Fighter has been pulled up in three of his five races under rules in Ireland this season, whilst Alpha Male has finished every single one of his 27 races to date, but has yet to be placed in seven contests this term.
The first seven home is last year’s Velka Pardubicka re-appear again here, led by last year’s winner MR SPEX. With last year’s winning jockey Lukas Matusky out injured, connections have snapped up top Irish amateur rider Patrick Mullins for the ride, who will be hoping to improve his record in the race, having failed to complete in the last two runnings of the Velka Pardubicka aboard Slovakian-trained KAISERWALZER, who take his chance again on Sunday. Although a much more assured jumper having finished in all his 17 races over the Pardubice cross country course, Mr Spex was a well beaten eighth on his seasonal reappearance in the third of four qualifying races here in August, and although sure to strip fitter here, might be one race short of peak fitness.
The aforementioned August qualifying race was won by last year’s Velka Pardubicka third SACAMIRO, with 2022 Velka second and fourth TALENT and PLAYER filling the same places in the August qualifier. Winner of the 2021 Velka Pardubicka, Talent is a usually safe jumper, however fell last time out, whilst Player has finished the course in only one of his three outings this year. Sacamiro however has completed every one of his 22 races over jumps, and with top jockey Jan Faltejsek in the saddle, is one for the shortlist.
GODFREY is another runner who has completed all of his races, and this seven year old has been runner up in both his contests this year. Running in the colours of DS Pegas that the legendary mare Orphee des Blins carried to victory in three Velkas between 2012 and 2014, Godfrey could well be a future winner of the race, but may lack the experience this year.
English jockey James Best takes the ride on LOMBARGINI, who despite not always being the best of jumpers in the past, was sixth in this race last year. However, the twelve year old got no further than the second fence in the first qualifying race in May.
It simply wouldn’t be the Velka Pardubicka without the name of Josef Vana being present, and the veteran trainer saddles LODGIAN WHISTLE here. Having won both starts this season including when defeating Sacamiro among others in the second qualifying race in June, Lodgian Whistle was leading the fourth qualifying race last month when having to be pulled up by jockey Josef Bartos after the saddle slipped. With Bartos out injured, Ondrej Velek, who rode Lodgian Whistle to victory in the June qualifier, steps into the saddle on Sunday, and the pair could go close on Sunday to giving Vana his eleventh victory in the race as a trainer.
Unlike his father, Josef Vana Jr has never won the Velka Pardubicka, however has had some big race success, notably in Group races at Merano in Italy. Indeed, SANTA KLARA landed a Group 3 chase at Merano last year, and ran out a four length winner of a conditions chase there in May this year. An interesting runner having finished third in last month’s Polish Grand National at Wroclaw, Santa Klara could go well on Sunday, however the marathon 6900 metre trip is an unknown for the eight year old Irish-bred mare.
DULCAR DE SIVOLA has got round in the last four Velka Pardubickas, but hasn’t won for six years, whilst ZATARO has to go back to 2018 to find his last success. Slovakian-trained ROYAL GINO has a good record round his local course at Bratislava, but has fallen twice at Pardubice this year, whilst STUKE, a Group 1 winning hurdler at Merano back in 2020, has also come to grief at Pardubice twice this season.
The Velka Pardubicka nearly always throws up a big priced outsider who runs into a place, and the twelve year old German-bred gelding STAR could just do that here. Sixth in the 2021 Velka Pardubicka at odds of 135-1 before coming to grief at the Taxis fence in last year’s renewal, Star left Slovakian trainer Jaroslav Brecka’s stables earlier this year, and is now in the care of Hana Kabelkova, who trained Talent to won the Velka Pardubicka two years ago. After being well beaten on his seasonal reappearance in June, Star then contested two of the qualifying races for this year’s Velka, finishing third in the August qualifier, before coming home runner up in the final qualifier last month. Having already raced over the 6900 metre distance, and seemingly in fine form, Star could well live up to his name on Sunday.
Like Star, IMPHAL came down at the fearsome Taxis jump last year, but whereas Star seems to be in good form coming into Sunday’s contest, there must be a worry about Imphal, who trailed home last of six finishers in a Class 2 chase at Pardubice last time out.
The 18 runner field is completed by ARGANO, fifth in the race last year, and winner of the final qualifying race for this year’s contest. By useful German stallion Lord of England out of 2004 Slovakian Triple crown winner Arganta, Argano only started in cross country chases in 2021, but is a sure footed jumper who has completed all 12 of his cross country races. Indeed, last year’s Anglo German Racing preview for the Velka Pardubicka noted of Argano that ‘although this eight year old could well be a future Velka winner, this race might be coming a year or two too early’. One year on, and coming into the Velka on the back of his qualifying race victory, Argano, who will as usual be ridden by his trainer Martin Liska, could well be the one to beat on Sunday.
1ST – 11 ARGANO
2ND – 4 LODGIAN WHISTLE
3RD – 3 SACAMIRO
4TH – 10 STAR
5TH – 13 MR SPEX
6TH – 15 SANTA KLARA
Czech TV will be broadcasting the meeting live here:
The first race starts at 11:30 CET / 10:30 am UK time, the Velka Pardubicka is due off at 16:00 CET / 3:00 pm UK time, and a racecard can be found here:
Photo: Action from the 2016 renewal of one of the world’s most famous steeplechases, the Velka Pardubicka at Pardubice in the Czech Republic. This year’s renewal of the race takes place on Sunday (Photo copyright Stefanie Ihlenburg / Anglo German Racing).