The 2023 season in the Czech Republic is coming to an end, with a cancelled meeting and a rearranged meeting.

On October 24th, Dostihový spolek, organisers of events at Pardubice racecourse, announced that it was cancelling the final race meeting of the 2023 season at Pardubice, which had been scheduled for November 12th.

This decision was of course criticised by trainers and owners who were already preparing their horses for the six races that had been announced (two crosscountry races, two hurdles races and two flat races, aimed at low-category horses). The Czech Steeplechase Association pointed out that the late cancellation sets up a very poor precedent, and damages the reputation of Czech horseracing and particularly of Pardubice racecourse. The Czech Steeplechase Association also pointed out that the late cancellation was particularly unfortunate because this year’s weather in late October was still good for training and racing horses.  

The number of race days organised in the Czech Republic in 2023 has been considerably down on all recent years, and the cumulative decline over the last 20 years is very worrisome. The decrease in the number of low-category races over obstacles has been acute, and it has become increasingly difficult to plan a series of races, particularly for novices and for moderate horses. The number of race meetings (flat, jumps and mixed) held in the country this year will be well below 50. This is considerably offset by opportunities to run Czech-trained jumpers abroad, though probably only the Slovak racecourses and Wroclaw in Poland are a viable option for moderate jumpers. Large numbers of Czech-trained jumpers are nowadays sent to run in Italy, France and Germany, and their horses run with a lot of success. However, plenty of trainers, owners - and indeed racehorses - dislike the idea of horses travelling very long distances to and from racecourses.

In its announcement, Dostihový spolek pointed out that there are alternative options for horses that would have run at Pardubice on November 12th. There are meetings at Kolesa on November 5th and at Lysá-nad-Labem on November 11th, and also at Wroclaw on November 11th.  There may be some possibility of splitting races, if there are large numbers of declared runners.

The meeting at Lysá replaces the raceday some weeks ago that had to be cancelled due to extensive damage to the racetrack caused by wild boars from the adjacent forest area.

The last four years have been extremely difficult for all stakeholders and participants in Czech steeplechasing. The Velka Pardubicka and Pardubice racecourse continue to underpin crosscountry steeplechasing here, and there are opportunities for good-quality classical steeplechasers and hurdlers in Italy and France. Owners, trainers, riders, stable staff, the racecourses and the Jockey Club, and all other participants, have made efforts to keep things going. As our domestic 2023 season comes to an end, we hope for the beginning of easier times, marked by increasing numbers of horses in training, race meetings held, prizemoney, etc., as a reward for the efforts made in these difficult years.