The Velka Pardubicka is the Czech Republic’s answer to the Grand National, was first run in 1874 and takes place every year on the second Sunday in October.
The steeplechase has 31 obstacles and usually takes 10 long minutes to complete, and of course, there’s the infamous ‘Taxis’ fence to contend with, a 6ft high, 6ft wide hedge followed by a yawning ditch.
It was this fence, which dwarves Becher’s Brook, that led 1990 Grand National winning Jockey Marcus Armytage to say; “In 20 years of race-riding the prospect of facing only one fence ever woke me up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat: the Taxis”
Despite its long history, ‘the Velka’ has only recently started to gain the respect and reputation it deserves, with a prize fund of £70,000, it is not as lucrative as the Grand National, but it’s every bit the test of a jockey’s skills, athleticism and nerve.
Is Velka Pardubicka Harder than the Grand National?
Comparing the Velká Pardubická and the Grand National is difficult because both races have their unique challenges and obstacles. However, many experts and horse racing enthusiasts consider the Velká Pardubická to be more challenging than the Grand National.
The Velká Pardubická is a true cross-country race and was modeled on the original Grand National course at Aintree. British jockeys won the initial two editions of the race, and British trainers dominated the event from 1874 to 1884.
Interestingly, the Velká today is more like the original English Grand National than the current Aintree version. Riders and horses in the Velká Pardubická still have to jump a stone wall, cross a ploughed field, and contend with the huge Taxis fence.
At Aintree, these challenges have been removed over the years, and even the dreaded Becher’s Brook fence has been altered to lessen the danger.
Both races are challenging and require horses and jockeys to be in top condition to compete. Ultimately, it is difficult to say which race is harder. However, the changes to Aintree over the last 20 years have certainly made the Grand National a safer race.
The Last British Velka Pardubicka Winner
After Chris Collins’ incredible win on Stephen’s Society in 1973, the British public began to gain a newfound fascination with The Velka Pardubicka. This prompted multiple amateur riders from Britain to attempt replicating his feat. Charlie Mann was the only one who managed it – he claimed success riding It’s a Snip in 1995.
Where Is The Czech Grand National Held?
The Velká Pardubická is held annually at the Pardubice Racecourse in Pardubice, Czech Republic. It takes place on the second Sunday of October and attracts thousands of spectators every year.
The racecourse was built in 1874, making it one of the oldest still active venues for horse racing in Europe. The Velka Pardubicka is the highlight of the year and takes centre stage at the racecourse.
Situated on the edge of the town, the Pardubice Hippodrome is a five-minute taxi ride from the city centre. Visitors can take advantage of the range of attractions nearby, including a Medieval castle and historic town square.
Pardubice is a city located in the east of the Czech Republic, approximately 90 kilometres east of Prague. It is situated on both sides of the River Elbe; Pardubice is also known for its medieval castle and vibrant cultural life, making it a great destination for visitors.
Tickets For The Velka Pardubicka
Tickets for the Velka Pardubicka can be purchased in advance online. Prices range from £15 to £400 depending on the type of ticket; more expensive tickets often come with dining included. Discounts are available for students and groups.
The Velka Pardubicka 2023 will take place on Sunday 8th October.
Racing Breaks From The United Kingdom
For British equine fans, it’s easy to find a racing break package that includes travel, accommodation, and tickets for the Velka Pardubicka. These packages are ideal if you don’t have the time or resources to organise a trip yourself.
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The website Racing Breaks offers tickets, accommodation, and a variety of other extras to make sure you get the best out of your trip. They can also help plan an itinerary so you don’t miss any of the other attractions.
Whether you’re a seasoned race-goer or a first-time spectator, the Velka Pardubicka is an unforgettable experience. It’s a unique race with its exciting history and traditions – and it might even be tougher than Aintree’s Grand National.