There seems to be a growing perception among sport fans that horse racing is becoming a thing of the past. It’s true, the days of the entire United States being captivated by a story like the famous Seabiscuit are probably over, and in some ways horse racing may not have quite that many admirers that it used to (the same goes for tennis I think).
However, the sport is by no means dying out, and remains very popular in the U.S., as well as in European culture. In fact, a quick glance at the Betfair news online gambling exchange demonstrates the continued popularity of the sport with perfect clarity. Horse racing is in the hub on this site that includes betting for all kinds of sports.
In the Czech Republic, in particular, horse racing remains alive and well not just as a popular sport, but, increasingly, as something of a national pastime. My good friend, for example, gave up her ‘glamorous’ life in Prague and now lives in a country and takes care of her horses (see one of her beauties on the picture below). This old-new trend stayed alive throughout Communism mostly thanks to the Velka Pardubicka, a steeplechase race that has been occurring annually every year since 1874, and which is set to take place on Sunday, October 13th this year.
Thanks to its high difficulty ratings it is considered one of the hardest steeplechase races in the world. It’s about 4 miles long, and with 31 obstacles, it usually takes about 10 minutes for the horses to finish. Because it’s so tough, horses have to be at least 6 years old, and they have to qualify by finishing in at least one tough qualifying race that year.
The difficulty of the race has brought Velka under a lot to criticism. Like the Grand National, the Velka has a reputation for ruining, even killing, good horses (If a horse breaks even ‘just’ a leg it is the end of the road for him. The treatment is VERY expensive and the horse will never be able to run races again therefore no one wants to invest in it). However, changes to the qualifying requirements and creating an age limit has helped a lot.
Throughout the race’s history, it has seen plenty of the kind of historical events that can keep a sport, and the culture surrounding it, alive and well. For example, in 1946 over 60,000 fans came to watch the first running of the race following World War II, and the very jockey who won that race – Milos Svoboda – later penned a book on the Velka, in 1990.
Visit www.czechtourism.com for some specific information on visiting this year’s race, and start making your predictions on which horse finishes first at Velka on October 13th!
My friend Eva 🙂If you liked this post buy me a coffee! (Suggested:$3 a latte $8 for a pound) Thanks!