Story of the VP: Orphee des Blins first, the rest nowhere

The story of the 122nd running of the Velka Pardubicka is very simple. Outsider Orphee des Blins took the lead in the first few strides, and was never headed, except perhaps for a few metres after the Irish Bank. She set a good pace on the soft ground, deep in places on the ploughed fields. The others were stretched to follow her, Trezor and Belmont trying hardest to limit her lead. Orphee des Blins never put a foot wrong, and at obstacle no 18, the Big Water Jump, she put in a good jump and accelerated away. Trezor followed at a distance, and Belmont further behind, and the rest waited for the outsider to blow up. At each successive  fence she was foot perfect, her ears were pricked, and those in pursuit gradually realised that she might not come back to them. Across the plough to Havel's Fence, over the fence and across the plough to the turf racecourse: Trezor and Belmont dropped back. Ronino and Tiumen, with Josef Vana snr on his back, still had a chance if she reached the end of her tether. Over the second from home, and she was still clear. Jan Faltejsek must have realized that she was still going strong, and he took her carefully into the final fence. Once they were over the fence, the race was won, and the final margin was 16 lengths. The rest of the field followed her home at a very respectful distance, with barely the strength to compete with each other for the minor positions. Ronino was second, some way ahead of Tiumen. British-trained Maljimar finished fourth, having been a bit slowly away and going to the Taxis in last place. The consistent Valldemoso was fifth. The two Irish-trained horses, Uncle Junior and Doctor Pat took the prize money for 6th and 7th places, both of them outstaying the horses that had paid the price for trying to go with the pace.

 Trezor was 8th, a big disappointment for the connections, followed by Klaus, Belmont, Cabernet, Aspirant, Cabernet, Karslbad,Grilias and Le Jackpot.

 Bremen Plan unseated his jockey at the Taxis. Imbir and Nikas also parted company with their jockeys. Sixteen, Wyona, Argentan, Tomis and Mandarino were pulled up.

 The time of 9 mins 13.9 seconds was the fourth fastest in the history of the race, and all faster times were on much firmer ground.

 Orphee des Blins simply ran the rest of the field off their feet. Those who tried to go with her paid the price, and the places went to horses that had run their own race and were able to stay on at the end.

 Winning owner Jiri Travnicek richly deserves this win, after so many years of considerable investment in horseflesh and in a fine training centre near Jihlava.

 Polish-born Greg Wroblewski has been training in the Czech Republic for about 4 years, and this  was his first ever runner in the Velka Pardubicka, though he has won plenty of races as a jockey and as a trainer since running away from Poland before the changes in 1989, and repeatedly doing so again in more recent years.

 Pardubice-born Jan Faltejsek had never before finished higher than 7th in the Velka Pardubicka, in six attempts. Jan commutes between the Czech Republic, Nothumberland and Italy to ride. Following a painful injury in September 2011, he had had a thin time until very recently. Then he finished a close 2nd on Vana-trained Imprezer in the Gran Premio at Merano, Italy, at the end of September, and now he has ridden two outsiders to victory on Velka Pardubicka day: Sheron at 14:1 in the Vltava Prize, and Orphee des Blins at 55:1 in the Velka Pardubicka.

 Several of the runners in the Velka Pardubicka have been very lightly raced this year, and might reasonably be expected to run again before the winter. Trainer and jockey would be happy if the owner wants Orphee des Blins to run at Cheltenham, for example.