GBI RACING

Saltburn-based Colm McCormack takes Velka Pardubicka plunge

Colm McCormack

Jockey Colm McCormack travels to Prague on Sunday for his first ride in the 127th Velka Pardubicka at Pardubice racecourse.

McCormack, who rides for the likes of Dianne Sayer, Rebecca Menzies and Ken Slack from his Saltburn base in North Yorkshire, will team up with his old friend Guillaume Macaire, the trainer of Songe D'Estruval.

The 11-year-old has been supplemented to run alongside stablemate Virtus D'Estruval, who will be ridden by Jan Faltejsek, no stranger to British racegoers due to his exploits with Knockara Beau.

The Pardubicka is a unique cross-country race across ploughed fields and huge hedges.

Josef Vana, now 65 and who has won the race eight times, rides Ange Guardian, whom he trains himself.

McCormack has nothing like that experience to call up, admitting: "It's my first ride in the race and I haven't walked the course yet, I've only seen it on TV.I've ridden in France, Belgium and Italy, but this will be a first.

"Guillaume has had runners before, but none since 2001, I think. He supplemented my horse, but Jan's was always going to run.

"When I got the call I couldn't turn it down, I've probably missed a couple of rides at Kelso, but this is a good opportunity.

"I spent eight summers riding in France for Guillaume and rode 30-odd winners for him, but I have spent the last two summers at home since I got married."

Urgent De Gregaine, a winner over the cross-country course at Cheltenham in January, represents Emmanuel Clayeux and Felix de Giles.

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