In the weeks before the beginning of our new season, much effort is put into visiting stables and discussing with trainers, and others, what the plans and prospects are for 2018, taking photographs and writing up articles. Most of the reports are of limited interest, and repeat the same messages of hope for the future, and gratitude to the owners and to the stable staff.
Czech-trained crosscounty chasers have participated only sporadically in the Crystal Cup international series of crosscountry races. They have run in the Crystal Cup races at Merano and at Pardubice (the Velka Pardubicka counts as a Crystal Cup race), and in last-year’s first Crystal Cup race at Wroclaw. These courses are nowadays fully integrated into the programmes of our leading trainers over fences.
Less than five weeks before the beginning of our racing season, it would be reasonable to assume that preparations are under way and excitement is building. However, February has been a really cold month here this year, as it has been over a large part of Europe. Very cold, but cloudless for the last three weeks, so we have been spared snow and ice here in Prague.
A few years ago, Eliška Kubinová went abroad as an almost unknown graduate of the School for Apprentices at Prague Velká Chuchle. It was some time before she got a licence to ride in the USA, but when she started riding in Oregon she very soon developed into a massively successful jockey. Many Czech girl riders dream of following in her footsteps. Lenka Helmecká is just starting out.
The best Czech sprinter of the past years, Mikesh (Majestic Missile), has ended his racing career. The nine-year-old won eight of his 41 races and has earned EUR 65,000. Besides winning easily all major races in his home country over six furlongs, he scored four black-type places in Germany and Italy. He was the first Czech-trained horse to race in the Gr.2 Goldene Peitsche at Baden Baden, but his most favourite track was the straight course at Hoppegarten, Berlin, where he placed four years in a row in a listed race.
January 2018 was a remarkably mild month in the Czech Republic. The main way for residents of Prague to see snow or even a proper frost this winter has been to get into a car and drive up into the mountains. Personally, I would not dream of going in search of snow and frost, in a car, on narrow, icy mountain roads.