There are horses and horses, and riders and riders. The names of many will be inscribed in history, some will be forgotten. The most famous Czech jockey is undoubtedly Josef Váňa who began as a breeder. Younger generation of jockeys also produced some winners; men as well as women managed great achievements.
If you survive a fall during a flat race, you can talk about good luck. Racing falls are highly dangerous, but that is not what think about. The occupation of a jockey is very demanding and often underestimated. It is a long-term sport, often absorbing a great deal of active life. We would like to introduce four jockeys, notable in Czech horse riding history.
He began as a keeper and horse caretaker in Tlumačov. Then he plunged into horse riding in Czech Republic as well as in Germany. Before long, he became a racing phenomenon, nicknamed Jovan.
From his childhood he loved all things that he could sit on and ride, whether it was a pig, a goat or a cow. He rode his mare Kalina on 30th September 1979 - and won. In 1985 he was registered for the first time to take part in Grand Pardubice Steeplechase, where he with his horse Paramon finished at a luxurious second place. Since then he appeared at the famous track every year.
The year 1991 put his name down in the history of riding heroism. Váňa fell off his horse Železník, at Popler´s jump. As a real fighter he did not give up and won the race. He experienced the most serious injury in 1994 when he took a part in the German Iffezheim at Baden-Baden with his horse Verona, when they got entangled in a collision; he was taken to hospital with severe concussion, multiple fractures and injuries of the lungs. Today he comments upon it that he survived his own death. After returning from the hospital he climbed into the saddle of Matia Mou.
In October the eight-time winner will celebrate his 66th birthday, and although he believes that he is still in a luxurious state of fitness for the most famous steeplechase with jumps in continental Europe, we are not to see him as a jockey at the start of Grand Pardubice Steeplechase. He owns a training licence and therefore into the 128 year of Grand Pardubice Steeplechase he registered his charges with the Czech Insurance Company. Váňa will thus watch the races on 14th October 2018 only from the just from the stands.
Although he tried many sports; from tennis through cycling to soccer, his love for horses, which he felt from his childhood, won. He began with his father in South Bohemia, then rode as an amateur and pupil of trainer Ing. Karel Dvořák or Miroslav Kašpar. He also trained in Germany or France. He also cooperated with Josef Váňa. Abroad, where he is often engaged (in particular in Italy), he is addressed by the nickname of Big Joe, which he got at school.
He is a double winner of the Grand Pardubice Steeplechase (2006, 2008) as well as the Italian Racing Championship. He achieved eleven group victories or hat trick in the Grand Pardubice Steeplechase in 2006 (Prize of Vltava River, Elbe, Grand Pardubice Steeplechase). He is a notable jockey of flat as well as jump races.
The former jockey and today´s coach, Martina Růžičková, follows her heart. She is one of our most famous horsewomen, dubbed ´Váňa in skirts´.
The first time she was riding a horse she was two years old, at that time only a rocking horse. As a little girl she dreamed of looking after horses at the Velká Chuchle racetrack, but she then started to attend the a riding school there. In the years 1998, 2006 and 2007 she started, always as an only woman there at the Grand Pardubice Steeplechase and in 2009 once again she qualified to start at the Grand Pardubice Steeplechase with her horse Ruby. In 2014 she and her fourteen-tear -old English bay thoroughbred Ruby, finished in the fifteenth place. Now Martina pursues a career of a trainer and has in the luxurious stables na Pohoří 30 horses of owners from the whole of the Czech Republic, 22 of which are racehorses.
His love for horses is in his genes, since his grandfather Antonín Lukášek was in the 1970s a successful jockey and trainer in Velká Chuchle. He obtained his jockey experience abroad, travelling through England, Italy or France. He celebrated his first victory in Prague, when he was 21 years old. Today he is one of the most famous jockeys in the world. He started his great career in Poland, in Germany and in Qatar, collecting luxurious 24 prizes in the past season, which has just finished.