Velka Pardubicka Sept 09

Gordon Elliott has decided against a tilt at the Velka Pardubicka with his stable star and former Grand National winner Silver Birch this year.

Elliott will instead aim the 12-year-old at The Open meeting at Cheltenham. Elliott told "We won't be going for the Velka Pardubicka, the aim will be to run him in the Cross Country Steeplechase at Cheltenham in November."

Elliott, who has already trained over 20 winners in the UK so far this season with a near 33 per cent strike-rate with his raiders, won't be sending over his other entry Dublin Hunter.

However, four English entries with Pardubice very much on the radar are Kim Bailey's Lucky Luk, Charlie Egerton's Darkness, Charlie Mann's Mr Big, and also Ferdy Murphy's Lucky Nellerie.

Bailey, whose previous runner Supreme Charm tackled the course in 2001, explained to "Lucky Luk will go straight to Pardubice, that's very much our intention at the moment.

"I've been itching to run him in one of the cross country races at Cheltenham, but he is a horse that wants fast ground and I think Lucky Luk will be the sort to enjoy the uniqueness and surroundings of the course."

A stable spokesperson at Egerton's Heads Farm Stables told us: "The Velka Pardubicka is a long way off at the moment, however, the intention is to run Darkness in the race - that's the plan."

Mann, who is almost part of the Pardubice furniture, told "We are very happy with Mr Big, he looks great and is in good form. He will run in a chase at Fontwell this Sunday (6 September) and we'll probably look to get one more race into him before October.

"He seems the right sort for the race and the most important thing is that he is able to cope with any type of ground."

Fellow Pardubice regular is Wynbury Stables handler Murphy.

He told "Lucky Nellerie will run in either a handicap hurdle or handicap chase at Perth in September, we haven't decided which yet, but that's the route we will take.

"He has summered well and we've brought him back to work earlier than normal because of the way the race falls in the racing calendar.

"We've also discovered that he very much comes on for the one run, so with a run at Perth about two-and-a-half weeks before the race in October we should have him spot-on. We feel Lucky Nellerie is the right type for the race and his breeding is ideal as he comes from a cross-country family.

"He's actually been to Ripon racecourse today (Wednesday 2 September) for a walk and a change of scenery and has been doing plenty of tyre and pole work. Then we'll prepare him over 'Banks' fences."

It also looks as though we might see at least one runner from Ireland, Philip Rothwell's Spare Change, who needs good ground. A stable spokesperson told "We still are aiming at running Spare Change, our plan is still to go for the race."  

One horse very unlikely to make the trip is Wonderkid, which has been sold out of Tony Martin's County Meath yard. However, Martin told "I'm mad keen to have a runner in the race one day. it's just a case of trying to find something to suit."

Another possible Pardubice runner is Oliver McKiernan's Il En Reve, but the Irish trainer wasn't available for comment - we'll try to update the chances of it's likely participation before too long!

Dr Richard Newland's Burntoakboy is another who misses the race. He told us: "Burntoakboy suffered a knock shortly after we entered him for the race and is a definite non-runner."

Super Lord, formerly with trainer Jim Old, has been sold out of the yard and is now stabled with Czech handler Cestmir Olehla.    

There have been three further supplementary entries for the race, (at the cost of 45,000 Czech crowns), these are the Italian-trained Fatal Mac, the Czech-trained Montgomery and possibly the most interesting of the trio Juful Tennis, which runs in the colours of Jean-Paul Senechal.

Juful Tennis is trained by double Le Grand Steeple Chase de Paris winning-handler Francois-Marie Cottin, he told "Juful Tennis ran well to finish third on Sunday (30 August) at Granville, the two horses which finished in front are useful sorts so I was pleased with the run.

"He has come out of it fine and although there is no fixed programme for him he may run again. He deserves to take his chance in the line-up. I honestly feel he is an ideal type for the (Aintree) Grand National, but his handicap mark is too low he is unlikely to ever get into the race.

"I think the trip (6,600 metres - four miles and two furlongs) is perfect for him, and he is a very good jumper. We were tempted to run him last year but there were enough suitable races at home in France to keep him busy."

Cottin has successfully used the services of Irish jockey Phillip Carberry (aboard Princesse d'Anjou when winning Le Grand Steep in 2006 and 2007 and also in the saddle when Juful Tennis ran previously at Cheltenham), but told us: " My cousin David Cottin may take the ride, but we'll decide on arrangements much nearer the time."

A second supplementary entry stage will close on Thursday 24 September (at a cost of 92,000 Czech crowns), with a third supplementary entry stage on Thursday 1 October (at a cost of 100,000 Czech crowns).

The declaration to run takes place on Friday 2 October (at a cost of  45,000 Czech crowns).

follow us on twitter email us here