Ange Guardian wins his fifth VP qualification race

The second of the four qualification races for the 2020 Velka Pardubicka was run at Pardubice on Saturday, July 25th. The going was good, and the afternoon was cool for the end of July. 

There were nine runners, at least four of which would stand no chance in the Velka. Only one of the runners, 14-y-o Borderland, failed to get round and meet the qualification criteria. Borderland lost his rider early in the race. 

The race ended in a battle between two horses trained by Josef Váňa senior. Ange Guardian, ridden by Jiří Kousek, beat Sottovento by half a length. This was 12-y-o Ange Guardian’s fifth win in five VP qualification races in the last three years, but he has repeatedly failed to stay the extra distance of the Velka in October. All the other horses were well beaten. Third place went to Lombargini, which was followed home by well-fancied Stretton. The others trailed in as follows: Tiep de l’Est, Bridgeur, Moula, and Vernois.

Before and after the race, Josef Váňa senior declared that he does not fancy Sottovento for the Velka, but he conceded that the horse’s owner will now probably want him to run in the race. 2020 VP winner Theophilos, together with Mazhilis and Ange Guardian, will form a strong team for the trainer, though Sottovento certainly earned himself a chance go for glory in the big race. 

After the first two qualification races, 21 horses are qualified for the big race, which will be run on Sunday, October 11th. However, there are a lot of no-hopers among them. The last two qualification races at Pardubice are on Saturday, August 8th and on Saturday, August 29th. The two qualification races in July were both run on mild afternoons, which cannot be guaranteed at Pardubice in August. Some serious contenders are not yet qualified, including 11-y-o VP 2017 winner No Time To Lose and 9-y-o VP 2018 winner. Chicname de Cotte, which finished a close 3rd last year, also still needs to qualify.  

In the two other major races at Pardubice on Saturday, July 25th, hot favourite Anaking (owner, Jiří Charvát; trainer Pavel Tůma, jockey Jan Faltejsek) won the Gold Cup, over 4 400 metres on the classical steeplechase course, and Medic (owner, E.Ž: Praha; trainer Jana Junková, jockey Pavel Složil) won the 3 200 metre crosscountry chase).