I had hoped and expected that someone would publish some facts and figures about Czech horseracing early in 2024, and that I would be able to translate them into English for the Dostihový svět web pages.


The facts and figures presented and discussed here were prepared by Petr Malík, and first appeared in Dostihový svět in Czech language on January 6th. Petr specializes in gathering and presenting data of this kind, and has been doing it for a considerable number of years. As usual, his facts and figures are full of interest. This time they seem to me particularly interesting, as they show the considerable achievements of our trainers since 1993. At the same time, though, they show that the Czech Republic is a good place for racehorse training, but that our owners and trainers can find very much  more attractive races for their horses at racecourses abroad. Is that what we want for Czech horseracing?     


Many of the figures refer to Czech crowns (CZK). The current exchange rate is very close to 25 crowns equal to 1 euro.


The extensive comments in italics are mine.






The curtain closed on 2023 almost a week ago, and it is now time to draw up a small balance sheet. The Czech racing season has been over for several weeks already, while the most recent race on racecourses abroad was on December 30th, 2023. The lines that follow will offer some interesting facts and figures, as 2023 was a record year for Czech-trained horses running abroad.

With the exception of some mainly financial matters, this overview has been elaborated without taking into consideration races run in Slovakia, where incomings and outgoings are almost equal.

[A separate Slovak Jockey Club was set up in addition to the Czech Jockey Club very soon after the Velvet Divorce, which came into force on the last day of 1992. Happily, however, it has continued to be completely normal for Czech-trained horses to run in Slovakia, and vice-versa. Friendly relations, EU membership, Schengen, identical veterinary regulations, etc., have prevented the raising of barriers between the two authorities and have promoted cooperation. Above all, the continued availability of races on the other side of the border has given Czech and Slovak owners and trainers a much needed wider selection of opportunities to run their horses in suitable races. In these difficult recent years for racing in both countries, the good links between Slovak and Czech racing have been particularly valuable.]  

76 954 215    This is the amount of money in Czech crowns that Czech-trained horses won abroad in 2023. This is a new record, beating the previous record by more than a million crowns. It constitutes more than twice the amount of prizemoney that was won by Czech-trained horses in the Czech Republic, if we deduct the CZK 1 169 600 won here by foreign owners. However, we have registered 3 269 runs by our Czech-trained horses inside the Czech Republic as against 1 546 runs abroad by our Czech representatives. That makes average winnings of CZK 51 716 per race abroad, against an average of CZK 11 516 at our own racecourses.


Yes, in 2023 a Czech-trained horse running in a race outside the Czech Republic earned on an average almost five times as much in prizemoney per race as a Czech-trained horse running in a race inside the Czech Republic. Czech-trained horses are increasingly being sent to run in races abroad. Fewer horses are available to run in races here. The racecourses do not want to have smaller fields for their races, and cannot easily find sponsors. As a result, there has been a gradual decline in the number of race meetings on offer here. this, in turn, makes it increasingly difficult to find a suitable series of races for a racehorse inside the country.


The number of race meetings recently announced for the 2004 season is 48. This is three more meetings than were actually held in 2023, which was the lowest number in the post-1989 era.


49 274 620     203 Czech-trained jumps horses ran at racecourses abroad, and they managed to win almost 50 million crowns, which is a new record for winnings abroad over fences. These winnings are more than three times as much as the total amount that was distributed in jumps racing in the Czech Republic last year. Thus the average amount won per horse was CZK 242 732, a sum approaching EUR 10 million. About one tenth of this sum was won in December 2023, when a number of horses trained by Josef Váňa junior were based at Cagnes-sur-Mer [on the French riviera] and there were six jumps races at Pisa [in Italy].


Of the CZK 16 407 300 of prizemoney paid out for jumps racing in the Czech Republic, 7.5 million was assigned to the Velka Pardubicka and its four qualification races. For the other 87 jumps races run in the Czech Republic, the total amount of prizemoney money was CZK 8 907 300.

The Velka Pardubicka continues to be a great and unique national sports and social event. However, hurdles racing and classical steeplechasing do not offer much here. Our leading owners and trainers still very much want to win the Velka Pardubicka. However, they also have some good classical steeplechasers, which they run mainly in Italy but increasingly also in France.    

49    There was a total of 49 wins by Czech-trained horses in flat races abroad in 2023, which is six more than the previous record from 2021. There were 24 wins in France, 19 in Germany, 3 in Poland, and one each in Italy, Hungary and the United Arab Emirates. It is interesting to note that Czech trainers won exactly the same number of races in France and in Slovakia in 2023.


493   Since 1993, when the Czech Republic came into existence, a total of 493 flat races have been won by Czech-trained horses at racecourses abroad (not including Slovakia). One tenth of these wins were recorded in 2023. The first 49 wins abroad came in a period lasting more than 12 years, between January 1993 and August 21st, 2005.


Until now, flat races have been won in eight different countries: France 187, Germany 128, Austria 93, Italy 55, Poland 19, Hungary 7, Switzerland 3, and the United Arab Emirates 1. The courses at which Czech-trained horses have been most successful are as follows: Ebreichsdorf 82, Dresden 44, Deauville 32, Chantilly 28, Merano 24, and Milan 21. The Austrian racecourse will surely retain first place for some time to come, since there were eight Czech-trained winners in Dresden in 2023. At that rate, Ebreichsdorf would retain its leading position for five more years.


The recent win by Ponntos at Meydan in the UAE was a big triumph. Ebreichsdorf in Austria flourished only for a few years as a north-American style racecourse/casino. It seems now to be a casino with trotting races and, I think, a small number of horse races.

Václav Luka jnr. is already well-established as a Czech-based trainer with a well-equipped and well-staffed training centre whose horses are competitive in good races in France. More and more Czech-based trainers are following in his footsteps. Czech owners can consider buying a horse in France and racing it there as a Czech-trained French-bred with generous bonuses - after attempting to win the Czech and Slovak Derbies with the horse as a 3-y-o. After the Derbies have passed, the opportunities for a good horse are very much better in France.      

107    The most successful Czech-based trainer sending flat horses to run abroad is Václav Luka. His statistics over the last two seasons have been disappointing. However, his position as leader is not under threat in the near future unless, perhaps, Ingrid Janáčková-Koplíková has another winter season at Cagnes-sur-Mer like in 2023. It is of interest to note that the top five includes two who are no longer trainers. Roman Vítek gave up training more than 10 years ago, and František Holčák handed control over to his son, Radek, about three years ago. 1. Václav Luka jnr. 107 winners, 2. Zdeno Koplík 32, 3. Ingrid Janáčková-Koplíková 25, 4. František Holčák 20, 5. Roman Vítek 19.


Ingrid Janáčková-Koplíková is the daughter of trainer Zdeno Koplík. She took a number of horses to Cagnes-sur-Mer at the beginning of 2023 and trained a number of good winners there, and then the winner of this year’s Czech Derby. František Holčák is one of the great figures of Czech horseracing, with a fascinating life story, see František Holčák hands the training centre over to his son Radek. The time has come, he says | Dostihový svět ( Roman Vítek, son of legendary trainer František Vítek, is a qualified vet. When Roman’s 20-year period as trainer for leading owner Pegas came to an end, he decided to branch out and become an equine dentist and physiotherapist, see A conversation with equine physiotherapist and dentist Roman Vítek | Dostihový svět (


1 199     1 199 winners abroad over jumps were recorded between January 1993 and the end of 2023. In the first few days of 2024, the number rose above 1 200. There were 113 winners abroad over fences in 2023, which means that almost 10% of all winners trained by Czech trainers in 2023 were in jumps races run abroad.


Between 1993 and the end of 2005, 120 jumps races were won, i.e. an average of 9.23 per year. Since 2006, successes have been recorded as if on a conveyor belt – 1 079 wins in 17 years, i.e. an average of 60 per year! In the last five years, it is only in the Covid year of 2020 that there have been fewer than a hundred wins, and even in 2020 there were 98 wins.


A much bigger proportion of Czech-trained jumps horses than of Czech-trained flat horses run abroad. Trainers Čestmír Olehla, who had already achieved distinction as a qualified vet and as the young trainer of four-time Velka Pardubicka winner Železník before the Changes in 1989, and František Holčák, who achieved fame by winning the Velka Pardubicka with Libentina in 1990, very soon ‘discovered’ the wonderful racecourse with wonderful prizemoney at Merano in northern Italy. They set about getting owners to buy good enough horses to run successfully there. Olehla beczme the private trainer for Wrbna Racing, who had relatively deep pockets, but Holčák had only persuasion and a rapidly growing reputation. Both trainers initially bought the best horses available in Poland, but soon started purchasing horses for their owners in France, Ireland and England. After 1989, Josef Váňa was still an amateur rider (he had been expelled from the school for apprentices for fighting), and he started working in Germany. German associates set him up as a trainer in promising facilities and with good horses quite near to the German border, and initially his horses ran mainly in Germany, where steeplechasing was still flourishing in the 1990s. Váňa, who rode Železník for Olehla in each of his Velka Pardubicka wins, soon started taking his horses to run in Italy.  A big break for Josef Váňa was 10 or more years ago, when the biggest Italian owner, Josef Aichner, decided to send his horses to be trained by Váňa in the Czech Republic. A combination of good horses, top Czech jumps jockeys and, especially, the legendary trainer and the powerful team that he built up made Váňa very hard to beat in Italy. Then five years ago, it was announced that Josef Váňa junior would give up riding (he had major weight difficulties) and take over the horses owned by Scuderia Aichner. Young Josef hit the ground running, and has been fabulously successful with the Scuderia Aichner horses ever since. 


Races over fences have also been won in eight different countries, but the numbers are dominated by Italy, with 893 wins. Thanks to Wroclaw Partynice, second place goes to Poland (137). Third place goes to Germany (72), and one of the great powers of jumps racing, France (62), comes fourth. It would be interesting to analyse why, over a period of thirty years, three times more wins have been accumulated in France on the flat than over jumps. In Austria, our horses have won 11 jumps races, followed by Sweden (10), Switzerland (8) and Hungary (1).

For jumps racing, Merano is the eldorado, with 520 wins, and Wroclaw Partynice (137) took over second place in 2023, going ahead of Milan San Siro, where jumps racing appears to have come to an end. There have been 118 wins at Treviso and 89 at Pisa. The biggest numbers of wins in jumps races in France have been at Cagnes-sur-Mer and at Wissembourg [in Alsace, the nearest French racecourse], both of which have accounted for 9 wins.

Czech jumps trainers and jockeys have dominated Italian steeplechasing in recent years, but Italian participation in the sport has been in decline. In Austria, there is no jumps racing left (unless I am mistaken), and in Germany only a little remains. The only bright spot in the region has been Poland, where there has been a successful revival of steeplechasing at Wroclaw-Partynice, which is fairly easily accessible from most of the main training establishments in Bohemia and Moravia.

Petr Malík is right. It would be interesting to have a detailed analysis of the reasons why so many more wins in France have been achieved on the flat than over fences, whereas overall it is our jumps horses that have had a much greater success rate abroad than our flat horses. Part of the answer is that our top jumps trainers, led by Čestmír Olehla, František Holčák and Josef Váňa, obtained some quite good and reasonably-priced chasers in the 1990s, and learned in the quite early 1990s how to win races at Merano. It was not until twenty years later that the cost of good flat horses became affordable for some leading Czech owners. Václav Luka jnr. was then enterprising enough to set up a training centre and a management system that has established the competitiveness of Czech-trained runners even at the top racecourses in France.  

I translated an article by Miloslav Vlček, editor of the Fitmin & TURF Magazín website and a leading writer on Czech horseracing and on Thoroughbred breeding, Four big owners have dominated Czech horseracing for the last decade, and have won almost one fifth of the prizemoney | Dostihový svět ( The article shows that our biggest racehorse owners have drawn further away from the rest over the last decade. The figures in that article refer to prizemoney won inside the Czech Republic, and show that our leading Czech owners have continued to run their horses here, despite the much lower prizemoney in our races. However, the foreign owners mainly have their horses expertly trained here at a fraction of the cost of training fees in their home country, where their horses mainly run their races. To be fair, Scuderia Aichner has run a Czech-trained horse in the last two Velka Pardubickas. Some foreign owners run their horses here a lot, and all of them are welcomed by Czech trainers.  

393   Almost one third of the wins in jumps races at all courses abroad have been achieved by legendary trainer Josef Váňa senior. Together with his son, Josef Váňa junior, the Váňas have accounted for over one half of all wins abroad. In five years as a trainer, Josef Váňa junior has already won 239 races (and has made a very good start to 2024). Third-placed Pavel Tůma [who trains for Jiří Charvát] has also achieved outstanding results, but with fewer horses in training he is not going to challenge the Váňas any time soon. The top 5 jumps trainers at racecourses abroad are: 1. Josef Váňa snr. 393 wins, 2. Josef Váňa jnr. 242, 3. Pavel Tůma 82, 4. Grzegorz Wroblewski 71, 5. Čestmír Olehla 58.

The number of races run in the Czech Republic by Czech-trained horses has been declining steadily for about 20 years, and the level of prizemoney, which has always been considerably lower than in western Europe, has fallen even further behind. Czech trainers have increasingly found that they need a share of the higher prizemoney offered abroad, if they are to run a viable business. The knowhow now exists for success, though getting horses to and from distant racecourses in good condition is far from easy, and almost all of our trainers and their staffs continue to work very hard for little financial reward.

What has been achieved illustrates the EU’s single market functioning efficiently. The Czech Republic is surrounded on all sides by the Schengen area, and the European veterinary regulations have been standardized. Our horses, trainers, jockeys, owners and racing fans can therefore now be transported without delays and inspections to almost all EU countries. Horses can be cheaply and efficiently trained in the Czech Republic and can run at race meetings where the prizemoney is most favourable, i.e. primarily in France.

Unfortunately, however, these arrangements do not make a lot of sense! Czech racing would like to put on top-class racing that we ourselves can enjoy at fine racecourses here, and invite the racing world to our events. Sending horses on round trips of well over a thousand kilometres to run in their races is far from ideal. The carbon footprints of many Czech racehorses, their trainers, grooms and jockeys must be enormous in these days when the cost of generating pollution by combusting fossil fuels is so high. Should we not perhaps deduct from the extra prizemoney won abroad the cost and inconvenience of transporting our horses and ourselves to distant racecourses? 



Wishing all readers good luck in 2024.