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The Velká Pardubická: Our trip to Europe's maddest race

Updated: Oct 27



What is the Velká Pardubická?


Taking place in the industrial town of Pardubice, racing has been happening here for years. That's thanks to British trainers coming over at the end of the 1870s. Their rather random influx led to a course going up, and the first edition of the Velká Pardubická (the Czech Grand National) was held in 1874. The race is marked by its stretches on ploughed fields, along with the notorious Taxis fence, scaled down for safety reasons, but still a formidable obstacle. The total trip takes in thirty obstacles, all set over around four miles.



What's the itinerary?


Leaving the UK on Saturday, you fly direct to Prague. Explore the city that day, taking time for shopping and dinner in the Czech capital's numerous good quality restaurants. Next day, we transfer you by coach to the racecourse. After the opening ceremony, enjoy a packed card of steeplechases, leading up to the feature race and closing ceremony. We transfer you back to your hotel in Prague, where you're free to finish sightseeing, flying home that night or on Monday morning.



What happened in 2022's running?


2022's edition was won by German-bred horse Mr Spex, ridden by local jockey Lukas Matusky and trained by Lubos Urbanek. He came third in last year's race, and joined the parade to a crowd of several thousand (and many watching at home) before the start.



What about exploring Prague?


Prague is the picturesque Czech capital, set either side of the Vltava River. Thirty years on from the fall of Communism, and the peaceful breakup of Czechoslovakia, it's now a tourist hotspot that retains peaceful enclaves in the New Town. Beer rules the roost, and the city's medieval streets make great walking. We arrange transfers to and from the airport, well within an hour of the city centre. Pardubice sits about an hour and a half from Prague, set deep in the Czech countryside.

 

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