Will the heroine of the Velka Pardubicka go to Cheltenham?

10-y-o Orphee des Blins, heroine of this year’s Velka Pardubicka, returned home to   Zhoři in good shape and without any signs of major exhaustion. The mare, which completed the course without any major challenge from any of the other runners, is according to her trainer Greg Wroblewski, full of life and showing no signs that she has the longest race of her life behind her. “Everything is as it should be. She is healthy, cheerful and full of strength,” Wroblewski says. And he is looking to see where he might make further use of the mare’s good form later this year. And since crosscountry chasing is the domain of the French, and more recently also of the English and the Irish, those are the directions in which he is looking.

“Cheltenham? That is an attractive destination,” Wroblewski concedes. Cheltenham racecourse, which offers one crosscountry race in each of its monthly winter meetings,  is the biggest attraction among the British racecourses, and Czech  horses have run there in the past. However, no Czech-trained horse has yet won there. Registana came nearest to victory, but jockey error at the end of the race cost her her chance.  Since that time, our horses have not gone to Cheltenham much. The competition is strong, and it is a long way away.

“I’ve never taken a horse to England before,” Wroblewski explains. “We’ve been all over the place, but never to the British Isles.  But I don’t want to be negative. I first need to get as much information as I can about Cheltenham. Then the owner and I will be able to start real discussions about whether there is a race that he will want Orphee des Blins to run in.” The trainer is more or less sure that his mare would be able to run another race this year. “She’s in good form, and she’s race fit. We’d be happy for her to take on some foreign opposition,” he states.  

A possible problem might be that there is a crosscountry race in the November meeting at Cheltenham, but the final race in the Crystal Cup series is held in the December meeting. “November is definitely preferable for us, because of her form and because of the weather*” the trainer says. This is the time for a decision to be made.