1 JET FIGHTER(IRE)
6-y-o gelding tr. Peter Maher, jockey Sean Francis O’Keeffe, 70 kg
A year ago, he twice finished second in minor steeplechases over 4800 metres in Britain, before going to his present trainer in Ireland. In the spring, he won a point-to-point there, but in standard races he has not achieved much, and he has a rather low rating of 85 pounds. He tried out the conditions at Pardubice racecourse a month ago in the trial race for the Vltava Stakes over 4500 metres, where he was tucked in behind, though at one point he moved forward into second place. However, he dropped back towards the end of the race and finished some way behind the Czech horses.
Sean O’Keeffe rode his first winner as an 18-year-old in 2017, on his second ride as an amateur in Ireland. He soon turned professional, and he has ridden more than 150 winners. Big winners soon came along, mainly in connection with horses trained by Irish champion jumps trainer Willie Mullins. Two years ago he rode the winner of a handicap race at the Cheltenham Festival on this year‘s Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Galopin des Champs, and he won the Hilly Way Chase on Energumene, which twice won the Queen Mother Champion Chase. He has ridden two Grade 1 winners, winning the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle on The Nice Guy, and this year winning the Gold Cup Chase at Cork.
2 ALPHA MALE(FR)
12-y-o gelding tr. Peter Maher, jockey Petr Tůma, 70kg
He began his career with Nicky Henderson, and as a novice over hurdles he did not do badly, obtaining a rating of 125 pounds. After moving to his present trainer he won a hunters’ chase. However, that was five years ago. His form has deteriorated considerably, and he currently has a rating of 83 pounds. Nevertheless, he has experience of crosscountry racing at Punchestown. He has run in two crosscountry races there this year, but each time he finished a long way behind the winner. He ran at Pardubice a month ago in the trial race for the Vltava Stakes over 4500 metres. He kept pace with the other horses, but towards the end of the race he dropped back and finished in last place.
Petr Tůma has beeen on the scene for more than 20 years, in the course of which he has ridden 60 winners in jumps races. His four wins in Category I races include one in the Crystal Cup on Čáriray and in the Josef Váňa Cup race at Karlovy Vary on Tahini. He has ridden six times in the Velka Pardubicka, and his best finish was in ninth place on Dulcar de Sivola in 2021.
10-y-o gelding tr. Eva Petříková, jockey Jan Faltejsek, 70 kg
He joined the group of leading Czech chasers two years ago, when he won the trial race for the Labe Stakes. Last year, he began his season by finishing second in the June qualification race, and in the autumn he took third place in the Velka Pardubicka. This year, he repeated his second place in the June qualification race, although the reduction in the distance of this year’s race to 5 200 metres did not help him, and he put in a flying finish at the end of the race. In the August qualification race, he disproved claims that soft ground might not suit him, and he won the race, with Talent in second place.
Jan Faltejsek has won the Velka Pardubicka five times. Three of his wins were on Orphée des Blins, and the other wins were on Charme Look and Tzigane du Berlais. He has spent a considerable part of his career riding abroad. In Britain he won the Cleeve Hurdle on Knockara Beau, and in France he worked for champion trainer Guillaume Macaire. He has ridden numerous big winners in Italy, where he has six times won the Grande Steeple Chase d’Europa, and in 2017 he won the Gran Premio di Merano on Al Bustan. In recent years, he has been linked above all with horses owned by Jiří Charvát, including the outstanding Anaking and Northerly Wind. This year, he had a good chance to achieve a second win in the Gran Premio di Merano, this time on First of All. However, due to a fall on the day before the race he had a problem with his shoulder, and the winning ride was taken over by Felix de Giles. Unlike last year, when he had to miss the whole Pardubice Festival meeting, this injury was not too serious. Today he will remain on Sacamiro, which he rode in both of his earlier races this year. He is curently well placed to win the Czech jumps jockeys championship for the third time.
4 LODGIAN WHISTLE
10-y-o gelding tr. Josef Váňa, jockey Ondřej Velek, 70 kg
While he was still being trained by Štěpánka Myšková, he won the Labe Stakes and also a qualification race for the Velka Pardubicka. Two years ago he was sent to be trained by Josef Váňa senior, and he finished second in the Grande Steeple Chase Di Milano. He then suffered an injury, and he made his comeback with two runs over distances that were over too short for him. Nevertheless, he won one of the races. This year, he has shown very good form from the beginning. After winning the Korok Opening Crosscountry Race, he won the June qualification race. This race carried prizemoney of a million crowns but was run over a shorter than usual distance of 5 200 metres, which suited his attacking style. In August, he was intended to show whether he could do equally well over a distance of 5800 metres. However, there was an equipment failure, and he had to be pulled up. The distance of the Velka Pardubicka raises a question mark, but the expected harder ground will be in his favour.
Ondřej Velek started out as a flat rider, but as time passed he began to ride mainly in jumps races. In he past, he rode in Switzerland, but in recent years his services have increasingly been used by the Váňa family’s training centre, for which he has won some big races here and in Italy. He has ridden in the Velka Pardubicka seven times. In the last two years he partnered No Time To Lose, on which he finished fourth in 2021. This year he will be on Lodgian Whistle, a horse that he knows well and rode to victory in the June Velka Pardubicka qualification race.
12-y-o gelding tr. Stanislav Popelka, jockey James Best, 70kg
He finished second in the Labe Stakes in 2019 and 2020, and in 2021 he began his season by winning the August qualification race. In the Velka Pardubicka, however, he fell at the French Fence. Last year, he showed less good form, and he took sixth place in the Velka Pardubicka, well behind the first five. This year he fell at the second fence in the first qualification race. In the August qualification race, run on soft ground, he contended for a place behind Sacamiro and Talent, but finished only in sixth place.
James Best is not one of the elite jockeys in Britain, but in his best season, 2021/22, he rode 36 winners, and his total overall number of winners is 240. His biggest successes include wins on Walk in the Mill in the Becher Handicap Chase on the Grand National course at Aintree. This year he has won big handicaps at Cheltenham and Doncaster. He has twice ridden in the Velka Pardubicka. In 2019 he finshed sixth on British-trained Rathlin Rose, and a year earlier he was eleventh on Ribelino.
6 DULCAR DE SIVOLA(FR)
10-y-o gelding tr. Vendula Jirčáková, rider Josef Borč, 70 kg
This will be his fifth run in the Velka Pardubicka, but he has never been a leading contender. His best placing was last year, when he won the prizemoney for seventh place. This year again he has not shown anything. In the first qualification race and also in the Eva Palyzová Memorial Stakes at Lysá nad Labem he was tailed off in last place, and in the trial race for the Vltava Stakes only the two Irish-trained horses finished bheind him.
Josef Borč has been riding in races since 2003, but he has not yet achieved any major successes. He has ridden Dulcar de Sivola three times in the Velka Pardubicka, and his seventh place in last year’s race was his best result so far. He wiIl partner Dulcar de Sivola again this year.
7 ROYAL GINO(GER)
10 horse tr. Marián Štangel, jockey Jan Odložil, 70 kg
A year ago on Velka Pardubicka day, he finished second in the handicap race over 4600 metres behind Godfrey, which was carrying 4 kilos less than him. However, he still finds some of the Pardubice obstacles problematic. In the Korok Opening Crosscountry Race he made a mistake at the Drop, but he made up lost ground and finished in a close third place. In the June qualification race he fell at the French Fence, and in the August race the Big English Fence stopped him. In the last qualification race he finally got round without making a mistake, finishing fourth. The experience that he has gained may benefit him.
Jan Odložil rode in his first race in 2008, but he has only broken into the ranks of our leading jockeys in recent years. He had ridden two winners of Velka Pardubicka qualification races, but it was only last year at this time that he took full advantage, when Jan Faltejsek was injured and he was able to take over his rides on Jiří Charvát’s horses. He excelled at that meeting, winning four Category I races, including the Vltava Statkes on Gatsby. This helped him to win the Czech jumps jockeys’ championship. He finished sixth in the Velka Pardubicka on Lombargini, which equalled his best placing in the race, which was on Ter Mill in 2016. This will be his third ride on Royal Gino, on which he won a race this season at Bratislava and finished third in the Korok Opening Crosscountry Race.
11-y-o gelding, tr. Lenka Kvapilová, jockey Marcel Novák, 70 kg
Together with Talent, this is the most experienced runner in the race. He has run in the Velka four times, and when he has got round he has finished near the head of the field. In 2020 he was second, and last year he finished fourth. This year he has been unlucky. In the first qualification race he was forced out of bounds by a loose horse, and without his regular jockey he fell at the Snake Ditch in the June race. The lack of completed races may have hindered his preparation, because he went with the leaders in the August qualification race on soft ground, but in the end he was only able to finish fourth, well behind Sacamiro and Talent. However, his chances in the Velka should not be underrated.
Marcel Novák began riding in races in 1994, but he did not win the first of his two Czech Champion Jumps Jockeys’ Championship titles until 2017. He has ridden in the Velka Pardubicka twelve times, and in the past he was known for being the regular partner of Kasim, on which he was placed three times. He has won sixteen Category I races, including four qualification races for the Velka Pardubicka, including on Player in August 2022. In 2020, he finished second on Player in the Velka Pardubicka, and last year they finished in fourth place.
10-y-o gelding, tr. Stanislav Popelka, jockey Jakub Kocman, 70 kg.
In his younger years he showed some quality, but he appeared on the course only from time to time. It was only after moving to trainer Stanislav Popelka that he has shown up more. Three years ago, he finished second in the Labe Stakes, and last year he finished fifth in a qualification race. This year, he began with a third place in a Category III crosscountry race. The June qualification race was run too fast for him, and in the end he could not keep up and was pulled up. In the August qualification race, run on soft ground, he finished fifth. However, there probably is not going to be much rain before the Velka.
Jakub Kocman has been riding in races for fifteen years, but he has only begun to have major successes in recent years. Last year, he won the Crystal Cup race on Pomella and a Velka Pardubicka qualification race on Del Rey. In the Velka Pardubicka he rode Sacamiro into third place, his best finish so far in five rides in the race. This will be his first ride on Zataro.
12-y-o gelding, tr. Hana Kabelková, jockey Marek Stromský, 70 kg
Although he has twice run in the Velka Pardubicka, some of the Pardubice obstacles still seem to trouble him. In 2021 he finished sixth in the Velka, although his jockey had to sruggle with a loose saddle, and last year he fell at the Taxis, which only backed up his image as a horse that makes a lot of mistakes at Pardubice. This year, in his first race since joining trainer Hana Kabelková, the Big English Fence yet again gave him a big problem. However, in the August qualification race he dealt well with the course, when waiting tactics were used, and he finished in third place. In the last qualification race he was again held back, and it could be seen that he has begun to come to terms with the specific characteristics of the Pardubice crosscountry course.
Marek Stromský is one of our most experienced riders, and began his race-riding career in 1990. He has never won the Velka Pardubicka, in spite of twice being first past the post. On the first occasion, in 2008, he missed a marker was pressed out of bounds on Amant Gris, and they were disqualified. On the second occasion, in 2015, disqualification resulted from a failed doping test on Nikas. In addition, he was denied victory by a tiny margin in 2010, when he was beaten by a nose by Tiumen, which had also crossed him in the finishing straight. In 2018 he finished second on Hegnus. Last year in the Velka he fell from Dusigrosz. This year he rides Star, which he rode in his most recent race.
9-y-o gelding, tr. Martin Liška, jockey Martin Liška, 70 kg
His second place in last year’s Eva Palyzová Memorial at Lysá looked good, but after that he really found himself in long-distance races. In last year’s August qualification race he finished third, and in the Velka Pardubicka he finished in fifth place. This year, after a warm-up race at Lysá, he finished third in the first qualification race, in which he finished behind Godfrey. In the last qualification race, which was run at a fast pace, he waited and waited until the finishing stages, and then overcame all the opposition. It looks as if he is even better set up than last year, and the distance of the Velka Pardubicka will suit him.
Martin Liška started his riding career in the mid 1990s, but his breakthrough season was not until 2014, when he finished in the first ten in our Jumps Jockeys’ championship. He has ridden in the Velka Pardubicka thirteen times, and his best finish has been in fourth place on Icare du Renom. This year he had his fourth Category I win, on Argano, in the last Velka Pardubicka qualification race. He trains Argano, and will ride him in this year’s race, as he did in last year’s Velka Pardubicka, in which they finished in fifth place.
9-y-o grey gelding, tr. Radek Holčák, jockey Benoit Claudic, 70kg
In the past he was an outstanding hurdler, and won the Gran Corsa Siepi d’Italia and the Gran Corsa Siepi di Merano in Italy. However, last year he had a poor season, and this year he has started running in crosscountry races at Pardubice. It has not been straightforward for him. On one occasion the Big English Fence was too much for him, and in the August qualification race the Gardens Double fence caught him out. Then he finished third in the last qualification race, and the experience that he has gathered may benefit him.
Benoit Claudic started his riding career in 2008, but he has never been considered an elite rider in France. This year he has ridden seven winners there, including a Listed hurdles race winner at Cagnes-sur-Mer. He has some experience with the crosscountry course at Pardubice. He was invited over last year by trainer Dalibor Török, who has used his services in France. He was placed in some Category I races over hurdles, and he also rode the winner of the crosscountry handicap race on Velka Pardubicka day. He gained further experience by coming over for this year’s June meeting. This will be his first ride on Stuke, which was orignally going to be ridden by injured jockey Lukáš Matuský.
13 MR SPEX(GER)
9-y-o gelding, tr. Luboš Urbánek, amateur jockey Patrick Mullins, 70 kg
He has never shown up much during the rest of the season, but he has always been well prepared for the big meeting in October. Two years ago, he finished third in the Velka Pardubicka, and last year he won the race. Due to a hoof injury, however, he did not run until the August qualification race this year, and on that occasion he did not leave a good impression. He was not much invovlved in the race, and he finished in last place. His trainer has put this performance down to the soft ground, which did not suit him. He has been praising the horse’s most recent work.
Patrick Mullins holds an amateur rider’s licence, but he regularly rides horses for his father, Willie Mullins, multiple times winner of the Irish Jumps Jockeys championship. With star horses such as Douvan, Min and Un de Sceaux he has celebrated a series of wins in Grade 1 races. In recent times, he has been the regular rider for outstanding hurdler Sharjah. He keeps maintaining his good form, this year again winning the National Hunt Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival. He has twice ridden Kaiserwalzer in the Velka Pardubicka. On the first occasion he came down at the Taxis, and last year he fell at the Popkovice Turn. Before that, he had completed a qualification race and had finished second in the Popler Memorial Stakes on Mr Zuru. Trainer Luboš Urbánek offered him the ride when read that Patrick Mullins had just ridden his 700th winner.
12-y-o gelding, tr. Hana Kabelková, jockey Pavel Složil junior, 70 kg
In 2018 he won the first qualification race, but problems with arthrosis almost brought his career to an end. Nevertheless, he was able to make a comeback, and in 2019 he finished seventh in the Velka Pardubicka. In the following year he came fourth, and two years ago he celebrated a win in the race. He followed that by finishing second, and this year at the age of 12 he is still doing well. The shorter qualification race in June was too fast for him, but the soft ground in the August qualification race suited him, and only Sacamiro finished ahead of him. In the last qualification race he made a mistake at the Irish Bank that put him out of the race.
Pavel Složil junior is the son of Pavel Složil, who was several times placed in the Velka Pardubicka in the 1990s on Marketplace. He won his first Category I race in the Velká Slušovická in 2015, when he rode Sztorm to victory over Ange Guardian. Since that time, he has added a whole series of wins, recently mainly in Italy. In the Czech Repubic, he has made his name mainly as the rider of Talent, on which he finished fourth in the Velka Pardubicka in 2020, then won he race in the following year, and finished second last year. He is again remaining faithful to him this year, and has ridden him in each of his three runs in 2023.
15 SANTA KLARA(IRE)
8-y-o mare, tr. Josef Váňa junior, jockey Jan Kratochvíl, 68 kg
In the past, she was one of the best stayers on the flat in Poland, and then she became a crosscountry specialist at Merano. However, she also gave a good perfomance when getting acquainted with the crosscountry course at Pardubice, where she competed in the June qualification race and finished third behind Lodgian Whistle and Sacamiro. Her most recent race was in the Wielka Wroclawska, where she set the pace and it looked as if she could go on and win. However, she made a mistake at the last fence, and had to settle for third place.
Jan Kratochvíl gained much success when he worked at Josef Váňa’s training centre. While he was there, he won the Czech jumps riders’ championship in 2015 and 2016. He won the Gran Premio di Merano on Mazhilis and in 2017 he won the Velka Pardubicka on No Time To Lose. He has been especially successful at Lysá nad Labem, where he has won the First of May Steeplechase eight times and the Eva Palyzová Memorial three times. In 2021, he moved to the Lokotrans training centre, but this year he has mainly ridden the horses of Josef Aichner, which are trained here by Josef Váňa junior. He has ridden at all the meetings at Pardubice, where he won the May qualification race on Chelmsford, but most of his rides have been in Italy. In the spring, he won a crosscountry race there on Santa Klara. She was originally intended to be ridden in the Velka Pardubicka by Josef Bartoš, but he suffered an injury in the Gran Premio di Merano.
10-y-o grey gelding, tr. Stanislav Popelka, jockey Ludovic Solignac, 70 kg
After he won the September qualification race last year, he was expected to do well in the Velka Pardubicka, but his race came to an end at the Taxis. This year he began with a second place in the Korok Opening Crosscountry Race here, in which he challenged the winner, Lodgian Whistle. However, his fifth place in the June qualification race was outside the the battle for the leading places, and his most recent outing in the trial race for the Labe Stakes was a total flop, when he began to drop back a kilometre from home, and finished in last place.
Ludovic Solignac has won only three races in France this year, but he has been riding quite frequently at Pardubice. Last year, he finished second in a Category I crosscountry chase on Lianel and also finished second on Chicname de Cotte in a qualification race for the Velka Pardubicka. This year, he has won a minor crosscountry race at Pardubice, and in September he came over to get to know Imphal. However, their teamwork did not turn out too well on that occaasion.
10-y-o gelding, tr. Jaroslav Brečka, jockey Jaroslav Myška, 70 kg
Two years ago, he won the last qualification race, but he has not yet got round in the Velka Pardubicka. On the first occasion, he unseated his rider at the Taxis, and last year he fell at the Popkovice Turn. This year he finished fourth in the first qualification race, but he was a long way behind the first three. In the June qualification race he also was not able to compete with the best. Most recently, he finished fourth in the trial race for the Vltava Stakes, 14 lengths behind Godfrey, but he lost a good position when he strayed from a straight path after the Big Water Jump.
Jaroslav Myška is one of our most experienced riders. He has won our jumps jockeys’ championship title five times, and has won 58 Category I races. A year ago, je won the Labe Stakes on Well Absolute and also the Popler Memorial, but victory in the Velka Pardubicka has eluded him until now. He came closest two years ago, when he finished second on Evžen. He has finished third twice, fourth three times, and fifth three times. This year his partner will be Kaiserwalzer, a horse that he has not ridden before.
7-y-o gelding, tr. Dalibor Török, rider Daniel Vyhnálek ,70 kg
A year ago he won the Category III handicap at this meeting. This year he has moved up considerably, finishing second in the first qualification race, behind Chelmsford and ahead of Argano. Stamina seems to be his strong point. In his most recent race before the Velka Pardubicka he finished in second place in the Vltava Stakes, but the race was too short for him. The distance of the Velka Pardubicka is a clear plus for him.
Daniel Vyhnálek began riding as an amateur in 2013, but in the following year he went to the school for apprentices at Velká Chuchle. Originally, his interest was in flat racing, in which his biggest successes were in the Velká Červnová Stakes and the Winter Queen Stakes in 2021. Both of these wins were for owner DS Pegas, his employer. Last year was unsuccessful because of an injury, but it was when he turned more towards jumps racing. This year he has won only two races over fences, but he gets on particularly well with his partner in the Velka Pardubicka, Godfrey, which he also knows from working with him.