Czech Horseracing season set to begin on Monday, May 18

As soon as the Czech authorities announced, a couple of weeks ago, that sports events could go ahead as from Monday, May 18th, the Jockey Club of the Czech Republic promptly announced the race conditions for a meeting at Most racecourse, on Monday May 18th. The meeting will be held behind closed doors, under strict health regulations. No doubt, the racecourse and the racing authorities will do their best to comply with the regulations, and everything will surely be carefully monitored.

Within a few days, entries were in: over 120 entries for eight races. Exactly 100 horses have been declared to run. The first race is at 4 p.m. I understand that people who have an account with Tipsport may be able to watch the races in real time. The main race is the 45th running of the Rudolf Deyl Memorial (3-y-o fillies, 1 400 metres), which is the main trial for the Czech One Thousand Guineas.

After that, a meeting at Prague Velká Chuchle, behind closed doors, is planned for Sunday, May 24th. 150 entries have been announced, for eight races. For obvious reasons, owners and trainers are impatient to give their horses a run. Further race meetings are planned – race meetings will be behind closed doors until further notice.

All the races announced in the first batch of race conditions are on the flat. Pardubice racecourse was not so quick to announce plans and race conditions for jumps racing. The smaller racecourses have, I think, all announced that they are not able to organize race meetings behind closed doors, but that they will rearrange their meetings for later in the season, when - we hope – spectators will be allowed.

The lack of steeplechases was of course noted, with more or less considerable consternation, by the connections of steeplechasers. Rumours that the Velká Pardubická is under threat are a favourite topic for Facebook and for the boulevard press, and they promptly reappeared.  

Regular readers will remember that there have been several attempts over the years to take over the management of events at Pardubice racecourse, to buy the racecourse, or in various ways try to improve on the efforts to run the racecourse made by Dostihový spolek and the Town of Pardubice. Last year, a concerted attempt was made by Karel Jalový, whose company Loko Trans owns the Lokotrans racing stable, to buy a major stake in the racecourse. I wrote about this in some detail in August 2019, in three parts, and I refer you to;; and

Karel Jalový sent a letter to Dostihový spolek recently, asking for an assurance for owners and trainers that they plan to organize races at Pardubice this year, and offering to lease the racecourse on 10 separate days this year and organize race meetings on those days. Dostihový spolek then issued a press release explaining that they are negotiating with the Jockey Club of the Czech Republic and with the Czech authorities, and are doing their best to open the Czech steeplechasing season at Pardubice on June 20th.

These are difficult, uncertain, loss-making times for everyone in racing, and elsewhere. If rivals can find a way to co-operate, it will be better for all sides.