Join Course & Distance as we offer you the chance to experience the Velka Pardubicka in the very best way possible - read what our guests thought.
Congratulations to ORPHEE DES BLINS in winning last year's Velka Pardubicka, the victory gives jockey Jan Faltesjek (who will be our guest speaker in 2013) his first victory in the race.
Richard Dunwoody MBE explained: "The Velka Pardubicka is a race that I look forward to every year and I've always tried to attend ever since my retirement from the saddle.
"There is a tremendous buzz before the race and it is one of the best spectacles in steeplechasing to watch the field streaming over the Taxis fence - it is a daunting and unique course and one of the most demanding steeplechases in the world.
"It really is a race that you've just got to go and see for yourself and to soak up the atmosphere at the racecourse - there isn't anything to compare it with. It is great racing and a fantastic weekend."
Our gift certificates make the perfect present for the horse racing fan in your life.
PLEASE BOOK EARLY, THERE ARE LIMITED PLACES ON THIS GREAT TOUR.
IT IS QUITE SIMPLY A UNIQUE RACING EXPERIENCE!
CALL OR EMAIL OUR OFFICE TO RESERVE YOUR PLACE.
Friday 11 October
You will arrive in Prague and be transferred to the four star Hotel Yasmin, which is situated just around the corner from Wenceslas Square, in the heart of the city.
The Old Town Square (Stare Mesto), Charles Bridge, shopping arcades and stylish restaurants are all on the doorstep.
Friday is free for you to enjoy and explore Prague.
Saturday 12 October
After breakfast you will be transferred to the charming town of Pardubice.We will be staying at the only four star hotel, Hotel Euro, and we are proud to be the only UK-based tour operator offering this hotel in Pardubice.
There is an afternoon card of Flat racing and we offer an optional excursion for a supplement (£20), this includes coach transfers, admission and a chance to experience a guided walk of the course. You will gain an exclusive insight of the various obstacles and fences that horse and rider face including the Taxis fence, jumped only during the Velka Pardubicka.
On Saturday evening there is a Course & Distance pre-race reception. Enjoy a complimentary glass of wine while we run through the form for the Velka Pardubicka and supporting races as our experts aim to 'mark your card'.
This really is the ideal way to get into the mood for the 123rd Velka Pardubicka.
The year, by popular demand, we have once again arranged an optional dinner for our clients in Hotel Euro following the pre-race reception.
Sunday 13 October
After breakfast you will be transferred to the racecourse where you be able to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the 123rd Velka Pardubicka steeplechase and supporting card. Spend the day in Course & Distance's superb private box facilities with spectacular views overlooking the Taxis fence and the finishing straight.
Enjoy champagne on arrival and hot and cold buffet lunch and afternoon tea throughout the day. There is also a private cash bar and a dedicated betting facility with English-speaking staff. Course & Distance's representatives and special guests will be in the box throughout should you need any advice or help.
After racing, transfer back to Hotel Euro to enjoy a final evening at leisure in Pardubice.
Monday 14 October
After breakfast you will be transferred to Prague airport for your flight back to the United Kingdom.
All prices are based on two people sharing a twin/double room. Accommodation is on a bed and breakfast basis unless otherwise stated.
Bookings require a deposit of £150 per person, with the balance due (Friday 26 July) twelve weeks before the tour departure date.
There is a single supplement, please contact the office for a quote.
"Dear Andrew, just to say we had an amazing time with Brendan and his team. Brendan was so welcoming and friendly as were all his staff. My wife has been interested in racing since her childhood and this visit lived up to all her expectations. Brendan was very open and informative and we could have chatted all day! We would thoroughly recommend this day to anybody with an interest in horse-racing. Thank you again," Robert and Gaby Field - Breakfast with Brendan Powell April 2013.
"My stable visit was excellent and very informative, Kim Bailey was an excellent host as were his wife and staff. I was very impressed with how attentive and friendly Kim was, and how he made me feel at easy from the off set. He talked me through all the horses he has stabled in the yard one by one then took me up to the gallops for 1st and 2nd lot. I would recommend this tour to anyone who is interested in horse racing, I had a thoroughly enjoyable morning. Thanks, " Ian Hazell - Breakfast with Kim Bailey April 2013.
"Hi Andrew, we had a wonderful morning with Kim and his team. They were warm and friendly and we really got to know all about how the yard works. Kim is so very approachable and willing to answer any question," Helen Fink - Breakfast with Kim Bailey March 2013.
"Dear Andrew, just a short note to say how much we enjoyed our tour of Craig Farm stables. The initial welcome from James on our arrival and the overall friendliness of all your stable staff ensured we enjoyed our entire visit from start to finish. The informative tour which took us through all aspects of your training operation (tack room, feeding regime, housekeeping of boxes, etc.) allowed us to get a first-hand insight of how an ambitious, hardworking stable operates and the care and attention to detail required to be successful. Highlights of the day for us were firstly, getting to see all the horses in the yard in their box and getting the lowdown from James on their progress to date and his expectations for the season. Secondly, getting to watch (at close proximity) a couple of lots working on the gallops. And lastly but not least, the wonderful breakfast laid on for us by James' mother. The hospitality was second to none. The passion and commitment that you guys have for your business clearly shone through and will not doubt go a long way to ensuring you make your dreams happen – which, as you clearly demonstrated, is why you do this job in the first place. We would certainly love to visit again in the future. Thanks again," Maxwell and George - Breakfast with James Ewart November 2012.
"Dear Andrew, we loved every minute of our trip to Merano. Thank you to all the team for a perfect few days – so great for Jacques (Ricou) as well. Hope you all enjoyed France (Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe) and also good for Jan (Faltejsek) to win the big race. Thanks again to all," Briony Ewart - Gran Premio di Merano 2012
"Dear Andrew, I am no racing afficionado, but my husband is... he totally enjoyed every minute with Charlie – who seemed to have all the time in the world for us – smashing bloke. Everyone was so friendly. We'd both do it all again! Thanks," Sally Taylor - Breakfast with Charlie Mann October 2012.
"Hi Andrew, just a quick line to say how much I enjoyed my morning on the gallops which exceeded my expectations. I got a real insight into the workings of a racing stable through the the walk up to the top of the gallop (steep), the exercising of the horses, tour of the stables and viewing of the practice fences and hurdles. Add a really good breakfast, including a glass of champagne, all in the company of Kim and Peter Kerr, the partnership manager, who was very knowledgeable on many aspects of racing and it really did add up to a perfect morning. Even the weather was very good! Thank you for your assistance, regards," Derek Walsh - Breakfast with Kim Bailey May 2012.
"Dear Andrew, I just thought I would drop you a line to say that we had a great time in the Czech Republic. Alice and I both thought that Sunday’s racing was the most interesting afternoon’s racing we have ever been to, and we have been to quite a few big meetings in the UK. Please extend our thanks to Robin and Nick. We are thinking about Merano next year. Thanks," Dominic and Alice Elsworth - Velka Pardubicka 2011.
"I would just like to say how much my husband and I enjoyed our weekend in Paris. , Everything was all very well organised and we would have no hesitation in booking another trip with Course & Distance or recommending your tours to anyone. Karine and Valerie were very helpful and informative, while Willie and Kate were most entertaining. Diane Murray - Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe 2011.
"Dear Andrew, Hilda and I would just like to put in writing our very grateful thanks for all the hard work you put into organising the trip to Merano. We enjoyed the whole weekend as in addition to the wonderful picturesque racecourse our time in Garda and the opportunity to explore Merano and the surroundings was wonderful. We have brought back lots of photos and many memories. We should also be grateful if you would pass on to Davide Claps our thanks for his help and introduction to the Italian racing scene. Thanks again and best wishes," Stewart and Hilda Nash - Gran Premio di Merano 2011.
"Dear Andrew, thank you very much for organizing such a lovely trip for us all. We had a great time in Garda and Merano. The scenery was amazing as was the food and hospitality. We really enjoyed some time to ourselves, meeting new people and time with them also. Great fun, all round a lovely few days. Would definitely recommend it to anyone. Speak soon, best wishes," Jo and Rory Davies - Gran Premio di Merano 2011.
"Dear Andrew, thank you for organising a really enjoyable weekend. I had forgotten how lovely Merano is and what a fantastic setting it is for the racecourse, I went with our ITBA breeders, but it was so long ago. Kind regards," Anthea Smyth - Gran Premio di Merano 2011.
"Dear Andrew, a big thank you to you for organising everything for us to visit Merano which was a very enjoyable and worthwhile holiday and a delightful racecourse and how well we were looked after. You organised very comfortable hotels for us throughout. Very many thanks," Richard and Jennifer Landale - Gran Premio di Merano 2011
"Dear Andrew, great, first-class. Everything met our expectations. Your service was very good and we had an excellent time at Charlie Mann's yard," Antony Smithson - Breakfast with Charlie Mann, April 2011.
"Hi Andrew, our breakfast morning with Ann and George was excellent. It was a gift for my father's 80th birthday and as a true racing fan he loved it. From the moment we arrived they treat us like one of the family. Elaine took us up to the gallops whilst Ann came up on horseback with the riders and met us there. We did this four times seeing four different sets of horses ride out. Inbetween we spent time in the office with a coffee watching recordings of previous winners on the television. George spent a lot of time with my dad chatting about the racing game whilst Elaine prepared breakfast and Ann took out another string which we watched on the gallops from the stables. As we said our farewell’s and George gave Dad a signed copy of his autobiography which was a lovely touch. Dad said it was the best day out he’d ever had and said he felt so comfortable with them as they were so down to earth. Since his return he has never stopped talking about it and has even been walking a lot more. He walked more that day than he has walked in years and he now has the belief that he can walk further because he did it all morning at the yard. In summary Andrew it was a cracking day and well worth the money. We'll also be booking it again for next year's Christmas and birthday presents! Thanks for everything," Craig Dickinson - Breakfast with Ann and George Duffield, March 2011.
"Hi Andrew, we spent the morning with Jamie Osborne yesterday - I can't tell you how much we enjoyed it! He was absolutely fantastic, it was worth every penny. He showed us all around his stables, gave us a fantastic breakfast in his own home, took us up to the gallops to watch the horses training, it was amazing! He was so entertaining, informative, very good company, and full of knowledge. I'd highly recommend the session with him to anyone - even though I know very little about horses (John's the expert there), he was very patient with my basic questions!! Please do pass on our thanks to Jamie for a fantastic morning, we thoroughly enjoyed it and are really grateful to him for giving us such a great experience for John's birthday. Many thanks also to you for setting things up. Best wishes," Stephanie Nixon - Breakfast with Jamie Osborne March 2011.
"Dear Andrew. Sandy and I would like to thank you and the others involved in making our trip to the Velka Pardubicka such a memorable occasion. We do not generally sign up for group tours, but I am delighted that on this occasion we did. Had we tried to organise the visit ourselves we would have missed out on all sorts of goodies such as the course walk, the excellent view from the stand and the experts you had on hand to explain things. It was kind of you to come out to the airport to meet us, and this set the pattern for the rest of the excellent weekend. Thank you very much. Best wishes," Miles Williamson-Noble - Velka Pardubicka 2010.
"Hi Andrew. Bridget and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip to the Velka Pardubicka. Well done - the tour was well organised, thank you. Please would you convey our thanks to your team, Richard, Robin and Nick - who we felt really went the "extra furlong" to make the trip both fascinating and enjoyable - with their collective in depth knowledge and experience. We look forward to next year's trip to the Gran Premio di Merano, yours sincerely," Bridget and Anthony Cuming - Velka Pardubicka 2010.
"Dear Andrew, just a note from Sallie, Jenny and I to say thank you to you and your team for arranging our trip last weekend. We all thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the trip and Robin's 'Form Guide' in English was definitely one-up on the other Brits who were there. His and Richard's input into the weekend all added up to a very special weekend. If Josef Vana can do it at 58 (though my money was on the second) there is hope for us all! Having won a Hunter Chase at Cheltenham last year may be I should set my sights on the the Pardubicka next - though the other races on the card looked like they would be fun to ride in too!! With kind regards," Tessa Good - Velka Pardubicka 2010
"Dear Andrew and team. A huge thank you for such an enjoyable weekend, the organisation and hospitality were amazing it was great fun. Looking forward to another trip with you sometime. Best wishes," Tim and Hilary Brockbank - Velka Pardubicka 2010.
"Dear Andrew, just wanted to thank you and Nick for organising the most wonderful trip, we all enjoyed it hugely – even if we HAVE put on weight!! It was such good fun and we met so many great people.... Thanks again and keep me posted on future trips..... Best regards," Philippa Downing - Velka Pardubicka 2010.
"Hi Andrew, just wanted to thank you all so much for a truly unforgettable experience both Paul and myself had at the weekend. Everything that was laid on was first class and provided for an unbelievable experience. To sit in the bar chatting to our hero jockeys who were so approachable and friendly was our ultimate dream. Please pass on our thanks and congratulations for staging such a memorable trip. Kind regards," Nigel Drake - Velka Pardubicka 2010.
"Dear Andrew, Nick, Robin, Richard and Steve, just a quick note to thank you all for organising/contributing to such a good trip last weekend. You look after us so well, it is great fun and so relaxing. Many thanks once again and I hate to tell you but we might see you in Italy next year. Best wishes," Catherine Gabbett and friends - Velka Pardubicka 2010.
"Hi Andrew, just to say what a wonderful time Paul and Nige had at the Velka Pardubicka, it far exceeded their expectations, everything ran smoothly from start to finish. Thank you so much for organising such a fabulous trip. They were so full of their experiences when they arrived home, mixing with the likes of Richard Dunwoody and the extra little touches such as champagne on arrival at the hotel and seats at the race track on Saturday added to the experience, every little detail was thought of and done with expertise. They would definitely like to travel with you again to another destination at some time, best wishes," Kathy Staab - Velka Pardubicka 2010.
"Dear Andrew, thank you for organising our tickets for the Velka Pardubicka we had a wonderful day and the sun didn’t stop shining. The box was in a great position, the view of the Taxis fence was fantastic. I hope we get back next year!" Helen Fenwick - Velka Pardubicka 2010.
"Dear Andrew, Peter and I would like to thank you very much indeed for once again arranging a great weekend in Italy. Karine, Silvie and Richard were excellent guides/hosts and everything went very smoothly. It was also very nice to meet up with four people who we had been with for the Velka Pardubicka two years ago. I hope your Arc weekend goes well. Please keep us informed of anymore race weekends you may be organising next year. Best wishes," Jennifer and Peter Gregson - Gran Premio di Merano 2010.
"Andrew, thank you for a great weekend, all the group thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The setting at Merano was probably the most spectacular we have seen in our many racing trips around the world. Karine and Richard were excellent hosts and your tipping was pretty accurate!! Thanks once again," John Gloak and friends - Gran Premio di Merano 2010.
"Hi Andrew, what a brilliant weekend!! Everything was well organised as usual and the facilities were second to none. The hospitality was wonderful at the races - lovely food and free beer all afternoon! We were well looked after by Karine and Richard and I can't fault the entire weekend. See you next year! Regards," Bob Dady and Christine Jacks - Gran Premio di Merano 2010.
"Dear Andrew, I am writing to say how very much my son and I enjoyed last weekend’s trip to the Gran Premio di Merano. This was my first visit to Merano and it has to be by far the most spectacular location of any racecourse I have ever been to. It also happened to be the most spectacular renewal of the race for many years; having been told beforehand there were likely to be very few fallers we were amazed to see only five finishers out of a field of twelve in what was unquestionably an incident filled race. The organisation of the whole trip was superb, and we particularly appreciated the walk of the course before racing and Richard Dunwoody’s input throughout the weekend. We also really enjoyed meeting the other members of the group, and I think the fact we all got on so well together was due not just to our shared love of racing but also to the light touch of the organisation, which treated us as individuals, not just as members of a tour group. All the best," John Pinfold - Gran Premio di Merano 2010.
"Hi Andrew, it was another brilliant C&D trip, thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. Karine's organisation was top-class and Richard Dunwoody was a superb ambassador - even back at Gatwick he waited to wish everyone farewell. Many thanks for an excellent weekend. Regards," Chris Pitt - Gran Premio di Merano 2010.
"Just a note to let you know how my brother and I enjoyed our morning on the gallops and breakfast with Ann and George Duffield. Well I can honestly say we had a fantastic time as Sun Hill Farm is set in a beautiful part of our country. In between seeing two lots of horses on the gallops, we were treated to a very tasty breakfast - all in all a fabulous morning capped off by me deciding to join one of Ann's syndicates, an unraced as yet unamed 2yo by Araafa! All the very best," Brian Woods - Breakfast with Ann and George Duffield April 2010.
"Dear Andrew, just a few words to thank you very much for the wonderful time at Prague and Pardubice. All your people were wonderful, accommodation and food excellent and service of the best quality. Let me know for any further trips you may arrange and rest assured I together with my friends will follow next year in Prague. Best regards," Antony Evdemon - Velka Pardubicka 2009.
"Dear Andrew, thank you for a wonderful holiday, it was well organised. Say a big thank you to all the team, and hope to see you again some time. Yours sincerely," Carolyn and Sarah Bagnell - Velka Pardubicka 2009.
"Dear Graham, Andrew, Robin, Marcus and team. We would like to say thank you for the hospitality you gave us on the trip to the Velka Pardubicka over the weekend, we found everyone great company and with your work and the friendliness of your team and the other guests it was a very enjoyable trip. We'd recommend travelling with you (C&D) to anyone interested in racing and who are looking for an experience not just a different culture, but would like to be part of a group that share their love for the sport. Again thank you and I hope to see everyone again on a future trip (maybe Italy next year). Many thanks," Adam Burrows and Colin Gould - Velka Pardubicka 2009.
"Dear Andrew, I’d just like to thank you for inviting Daniel and I to your preview evening – which we both thoroughly enjoyed – and to make use of the box on VP day. When we were travelling back on Monday we found several people sitting near us on the plane who had been in the Course & Distance group and all were very complimentary of the trip. All the best, and thanks again for last weekend," John Pinfold - Velka Pardubicka 2009.
"Andrew, hope you are well. On behalf of our group who went to the Arc I would like to express my thanks to you, Graham and his wife for a fantastic time in Paris. Everything thing went very well (apart from having to go back to Doncaster to fly due to the high winds one cannot control the elements) the hotel was great and the session we had with Ray, Kate and Steve was very interesting and informative. Once again a big thank you to you all and hope to see you again next year. Many thanks," Dave Bannister and friends - Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe 2009.
"Hi Graham, thanks for a great weekend at the Arc! Great hotel, great racing, great Irish pub across the road and as usual the personal touch from you. See you next year! Regards," Bob Dady and Christine Jacks - Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe 2009.
"Andrew, we had a great time in Paris and everything ran very smoothly Graham was really good and Ray Cochrane and Steve Smith-Eccles were really nice to talk to, but most of all thanks to you for helping us to get there (emails). Many thanks," Stu and Linda Murgatroyd - Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe 2009.
"Having had first hand experience with Course & Distance, I would recommend them to anyone with an interest in horse racing and wanting to have fun at the same time," Charlie Mann, Upper Lambourn - Velka Pardubicka 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.
"Hi Graham, just a quick email on behalf of the 'Birmingham Six' to thank you and Andrew for another superb trip. It's not just your attention to detail, it's also the fact that you take the time to get to know everyone by name and treat us all as individuals and friends rather than just people making up the numbers. Course & Distance are easily the best racing tours company I've travelled with and I'll make a point of saying so in the next Midlands Racing Club newsletter. Looking forward to travelling with you again soon. Best wishes," Chris Pitt - Velka Pardubicka 2008.
"Hi Graham, I would like to reiterate Chris Pitt's e-mail about the excellent weekend with Course & Distance. It was extremely professional, but informal in a delightful way. Please keep Jenny and myself informed of any other trips in 2009, as we would be very interested in going. Best wishes," Brian and Jenny Hodder - Velka Pardubicka 2008.
"Thank you for the greatest racing trip abroad that we have ever had! It was great from start to finish and I cannot fault it. Nothing was too much trouble for you guys and armed with advice from the racing experts I was able to back a couple of winners! Thanks again," Bob Dady and Christine Jacks - Velka Pardubicka 2008.
"Dear Graham and Andrew - Peter and I would like to thank you and your excellent team for a most enjoyable weekend. We were of course helped by lovely weather when racing. The whole organisation appeared to go very smoothly and the hotels were very good and comfortable. We both enjoyed meeting such a variety of interesting travelling companions and found all the information that Nick, Richard, Chris and Robin gave us most informative. Please will you thank all your team for making the whole weekend a most memorable one and keep us on your e-mailing list. Best wishes to you all," Jennifer and Peter Gregson - Velka Pardubicka 2008.
"Thanks very much for a fantastic weekend at Pardubice. We had a wonderful time, we would both like to pass on our thanks and best wishes to you and your staff," Peter and Christine Stafford - Velka Pardubicka 2007.
"Dear Graham and Andrew, just a quick note thanking you for a great weekend," Pauline Wiles and Peter Jones - Velka Pardubicka 2007.
"Hi Graham, just a quick line to say to say thank you for a great weekend. Everyone was very friendly and it was obvious that almost everyone on the trip had a great interest in racing and in experiencing such a unique race meeting. As you know, this was my first racing tour and your efforts have made sure that it won't be so last. I look forward to arranging my next trip in the near future with Course & Distance," Rob Symonds - Velka Pardubicka 2007.
"Dear Andrew and Graham, on behalf of the whole group who travelled to Pardubice, I would like to say a huge thank you for looking after us so well. We all had a super time and the trip exceeded all our expectations... We all had a trip we will never forget and look forward to travelling with you again, soon. Many thanks," Zoe Harney and friends - Velka Pardubicka 2007.
"We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris with Course & Distance. Over the years we have been racing in Europe with other tour companies, but none provided such excellent value for money. We particularly appreciated having a 'local expert' available in Ben Newton, while the opportunity to walk the course and inspect the fences close up, accompanied by leading jockey Dean Gallagher, added considerably to the occasion. We couldn't fault the company's organisation nor its 'personal touch', by which nothing was too much trouble in ensuring that everyone enjoyed it to the full. We will certainly be going racing with Course and Distance again and would not hesitate to recommend them to others".Chris and Mary Pitt - Le Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris 2006.
"Course & Distance made my first horse racing trip abroad a fantastic experience. Nothing was too much trouble and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to anyone, " Geoffery Wilson - Le Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris 2006
The Velka Pardubicka is a major event in the Czech social calendar and was first run in 1874.
The cross-country course comprises a spectacular mix of banks, hedges and ditches, which includes the daunting and infamous Taxis fence – jumped only once every year – and is run over a distance of four miles two-and-a-half furlongs.
The race always attracts a strong British and Irish challenge with Charlie Mann the last successful challenger in 1995, training and riding the winner It’s A Snip
Never has the phrase ‘horses for courses’ been more apt, as the race has produced many multiple winners.
Maskul, bred by the Maktoum family at Shadwell Stud, won in 2002 and 2005, the mare Registana gained back-to-back successes in 2003 and 2004, then another mare Sixteen won in 2007 and 2008.
In 2011 the 10-year-old Tiumen, trained and ridden by the legendary Josef Vana sr, retained his crown again and joined the very select list of triple winners. The 58-year-old produced the winner on the run-in to thwart stable-mate Sixteen (Josef Bartos) inside the dying strides and so register an historic success.
Vana's victory was an amazing eighth as a jockey and ninth as a trainer.