Pardubicka marked for export with Stamp
Greg Wood on Britain's challenge for one of the world's most gruelling races
Thursday 10 October 1996
It's A Snip, the winner 12 months ago when ridden by Charlie Mann, his trainer, will line up once again on Sunday, this time with Richard Dunwoody in the saddle. Even Dunwoody, though, admits that the horse to beat will be Irish Stamp, who is trained in Middleham by Ferdy Murphy and will be ridden by Norman Williamson.
Until recently, British interest in the Pardubicka was largely limited to occasional forays by cavalier amateurs riding their own point-to-pointers. Such was the unforgiving - some might say sadistic - nature of the course that serious trainers would not conceive of exposing their horses to such risk. As at Aintree, though, the organisers realised that the high fatality rate, among both riders and horses, could not be sustained. Alterations to the course have ensured that, while it remains formidable, the Pardubicka no longer asks questions of its competitors which most cannot hope to answer.
As a result, and again this mirrors the Liverpool experience, better horses are now being tempted by the race's pounds 44,000 total purse, of which more than pounds 22,000 will be earned by the winner. Irish Stamp may well be the most talented chaser to line up for any of the 106 renewals of the Pardubicka, and if he adapts to the track's unique demands, he will be very difficult to beat.
"He's the ideal type for the race," Murphy said yesterday. "He's very adaptable and he stays all day. He was second in the Belgian National at Waregem, which is a similar type of course, and when Richard [Dunwoody] saw how well he ran there, he said we'd be the ones to beat on Sunday. He did some great work before he left, and we also schooled him across a three-day-event course at Catterick. My son Paul travelled out with him and he's really pleased with how well he is."
Any local punters with access to a British form book will be in little doubt about where to place their bets. On official handicap ratings, Irish Stamp is 25lb superior to It's A Snip, who must take him on at level weights on Sunday. As Murphy put it, "with a bit of luck, he should nearly draw". It is also fortunate that Irish Stamp is not a natural front-runner, since the field must pick its way back and forth as it crosses a total of 55 obstacles, and even a rider of Williamson's ability could easily take a wrong turn.
As for the most famous obstacle, Murphy believes that most of the runners who come to grief at the Taxis, which is jumped only once, early in the race, do so because their riders are too keen to clear it. "I've talked to Richard Pitman, who has been out there, and he says they gallop at the Taxis at 100 miles an hour," the trainer said. "You want to ride it like a normal fence and allow your horse to pick up and really jump."
It sounds simple enough, but in practice it may be rather less so. "The owner likes the craic, so why not have a go?" Murphy said. We can only hope that the question will remain rhetorical on Monday morning.
Latest in Sport
Ireland v England Six Nations match preview: What time does it start and where can I watch it?
Chelsea vs Tottenham combined XI: Hugo Lloris or Thibaut Courtois? Willian or Christian Eriksen? Who makes the final cut?
Manchester United vs Sunderland match report: Wayne Rooney scores twice but referee Roger East sends off Wes Brown instead of John O'Shea
Manchester United player ratings: Just how bad was Angel Di Maria to be withdrawn at half-time?
Brock Lesnar fuels speculation over his WWE future with appearance at UFC event
- 2 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face the death penalty
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Robert Mugabe eats a zoo for 'obscene' 91st birthday party
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...
£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...
£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...