Horse Racing in Pardubice has a long and rich tradition dating back to 1842. Great Pardubice Steeplechase, along with the much feared Taxis Ditch, have won their reputation far beyond the borders of the Czech Republic, becoming one of the toughest and oldest horse races on the European continent. In addition, a number of jockeys consider the participation in that race the peak of their riding career. Only few people however know that the Great Pardubice Steeplechase actually took up the Parfors hunts, which the nobility enjoyed in the 19th century and which Pardubice became famous with within the Austrian Empire, Austria-Hungary and across Europe. Since then, the race saw a few changes - the length of routes has increased and also the arrangement of the obstacles has changed. The Taxis Ditch, however, has been scaring the jockeys constantly.
THE GREAT PARDUBICE STEEPLECHASE
The history of the Great Pardubice Steeplechase dates back to 1874 when horses defeated the course of the race for the first time. At that time, apparently no one thought how magnificent future is ahead of that steeplechase. The famous Pardubice Steeplechase is run every second Sunday in October. The tradition was only interrupted by unfavourable weather between 1876 and 1908, by both World Wars and the arrival of the Soviet troops in 1968. Nowadays, the Great Pardubice Steeplechase is the highlight of the Czech racing season and one of the hardest races in Europe. It is not only a sporting, but also a social event at which mixes the scent of expensive perfumes with the smell of horse sweat. The Great Pardubice Steeplechase course is 6,900 meters long, where riders and horses have to overcome 31 obstacles. The most famous of those is the Taxis Ditch, a five-meter long and a meter deep trench that until the last moment hides to horses a 150 cm tall hedge; an obstacle that is only jumped on The Great Pardubice Steeplechase. Before the actual attendance, however, jockeys and their horses must complete a four-part series of qualifications and finish at least one of the qualifying races without falling. Only then they are qualified to participate in that legendary race, the greatest conqueror of which is the jockey and coach Josef Vana. He has won the first place a total of eight times; of which four times on the back of Zeleznik.
The Pardubice racecourse with an area of 54 hectares is a modern racing and equestrian centre of European parameters where one of the most difficult hurdle race of the European continent is run – the Great Pardubice Steeplechase.
Within a racing season lasting from May to October the Pardubice racecourse however offers a lot more events. Another prestigious race is the Gold Cup who has been run there for more than a quarter century. It is a classic steeplechase, also known as the Gold Cup of the Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic Parliament. Worth mentioning is certainly also the Czech Republic Versatility Championship intended for all age groups, from children through juniors to seniors, individuals and teams. During the race, riders and their horses must master the three disciplines - dressage, showjumping and field ride.
Big events with a long tradition include the international exhibition Horses in Action, which is every year conceived thematically by the organizers. To experts and laymen, the exhibition offers not only breeder shows, but also demonstrations of sports and work skills of horses of all breeds and sizes. On display there are breeds of horses from minihorses to cold-blooded horses which compete for example in heavy draft or ploughing.
During the year, the racecourse and stables can be visited as a guided tour. More information on: http://zavodistepardubice.cz/