The first meeting of the season at Pardubice will be on June 20th
In a press release, Dostihový Spolek, organisers of events at Pardubice racecourse, has announced that its first two meetings of the 2020 season are planned for June 20th and July 4th. The main event on June 20th will be the Opening Steeplechase, which has in recent years been called the Korok Opening Steeplechase. Korok not only won the Velka on three occasions, but also won the Opening Steeplechase in four successive years.
On July 4th, the feature race will be the first of the four qualification race for the Velka Pardubicka. The Velka Pardubicka is to be run on Sunday, October 11th. Thirty horses have been entered for the Velka. Supplementary entries can be made until September 24th.
Our other major racecourses got out of the starting boxes much more quickly than Padubice, and started holding race meetings behind closed doors just as soon as was permitted. Most racecourse put on a meeting on Monday, May 18th, which was the first day on which a race meeting was allowed in the Czech Republic after the shutdown.
On the subsequent weekends, Prague Velká Chuchle and Karlovy Vary arranged meetings, and at Karlovy Vary there were two steeplechases on the card. At the end of May, our chasers were able to get to Merano, in northern Italy, for a two-day meeting, in which Josef Váňa senior and Josef Váňa junior each trained two winners.
Jaroslav Müller, manager of Dostihový spolek, explained: “Dostihový spolek had prepared plans some weeks ago to make up for the cancelled meetings in May and June. At its recent meeting, the Council of the Jockey Club approved the first two race days and the race conditions for those days.”
He also explained why Pardubice racecourse had preferred to wait until race meetings could be held with some spectators. “Racegoers provide the right audience, they set up the atmosphere. The second reason, and it’s the basic one, concerns our business partners, who are also racegoers. Putting on a high-class meeting over fences costs a lot of money, and without support from partners that would be tough. We do have some big, traditional partners standing behind us, and we are very grateful for that. However, bearing in mind what’s going on in the economy, we have to take into account the possibility that there may be limited funding from our other partners.”
From June 8th, up to 500 spectators will be allowed to attend race meetings in the Czech Republic. Dostihový spolek will announce later what the rules are for spectators at their meetings.
The slow start to the racing season made by Dostihový spolek has understandably been unpopular with owners, trainers and jockeys, who point out that the first major steeplechases of our season will be held more than a month after that flat race meeting at Most racecourse on May 18th, and three weeks after Merano racecourse put on a two-day meeting.