Premature end for Patrick Mullins on first ride in Velka Pardubicka
The most infamous obstacle on the course ended the hopes of Patrick Mullins making a dream debut in the Velka Pardubicka, as the leading amateur rider was unseated from his mount Kaiserwalzer at the formidable Taxis Ditch in the 131st running of the race.
Taking up a prominent position, Mullins had a clear view of the Taxis, the fourth fence on the course consisting of a five-metre long ditch following a 1.45m hedge, but Kaiserwalzer landed too steeply and sent his rider into orbit.
Fortunately Mullins was quickly on his feet and appeared unscathed as he walked away from the landing side.
In a race never short on drama, 12 of the 18 runners who set out were left in contention at the halfway point but obstacles such as the Stone Wall, Water Trough and Large Moat soon thinned out those who remained.
Joining the racecourse proper for the final dash for the line, it looked likely to be 19th time lucky for rider Jaroslav Myska aboard Evzen, who had been prominent throughout, but he was agonisingly caught close home by Talent under jockey Pavel Slozil.
The winner, a ten-year-old trained by Hana Kabelkova, had finished fourth 12 months ago and seventh in 2019, while Slozil was tasting victory in the famous race for the first time at his fourth attempt.
The winner returned at 24-1 locally, with the well-fancied Evzen in second and Mr Spex third.
The likes of Ruby Walsh and Richard Dunwoody have tried but failed in the past to land the 4m2½f marathon, run at Pardubice racecourse in the Czech Republic, with no British or Irish jockey successful since Charlie Mann partnered Its A Snip, whom he also trained, to win in 1995.
Pardubicka legend Josef Vana, who has trained 11 winners of the race as well as winning it eight times as a rider, was out of luck with his three runners on this occasion, including 3-1 favourite No Time To Lose, who finished fourth.
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