Patrick Mullins: I've been told to hold on tight in Velka Pardubicka
Sunday: 2.45 Pardubice
131st Velka Pardubicka | (Listed Cross Country Race) 4m2½f | 6yo+ (Turf)
Patrick Mullins will tick another item off his riding bucket list with his first start in the unique 4m2½f Velka Pardubicka (2.45) on Sunday.
The leading amateur partners Kaiserwalzer for trainer Jaroslav Brecka in the cross-country race, which features demanding obstacles such as Taxis Ditch, a five-metre long ditch following a 1.45m hedge.
Willie Mullins was represented in 2012 by Uncle Junior, who finished sixth at Pardubice under Emmet Mullins. Several top British and Irish jockeys have ridden in the historic race, including Richard Dunwoody.
"The trainer rang me two weeks ago and asked if I'd be interested in riding," said Mullins. "I've always wanted to as it's a famous race.
"Uncle Junior ran there in 2012 but the weights were lower then, so I couldn't ride him and Emmet did, but they're higher now. This will be my first crack at it and Emmet's advice was to just hold on tight.
"Growing up, Ruby [Walsh] and Richard Dunwoody rode out there. There's lots of stories about the place, so it's a dream to ride and is one to tick off the bucket list.
"It will be fun to jump the Taxis Ditch, which I think is bigger than Becher's Brook. Kaiserwalzer won a trial race – I saw the video – and the trainer is very good, so I'm excited. It's important to have a horse with some experience at the track."
The 130th running of the race was won last year by Hegnus, who attempts to retain his crown for trainer Radek Holcak and jockey Lukas Matusky. Also lining up is 2019 winner Theophilos, who finished a well-beaten ninth last year.
The race has not been won by a British or Irish jockey since 1995, when Charlie Mann partnered It's A Snip, whom he also trained. In 2019, Rathlin Rose finished sixth for James Best and David Pipe.
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