Lata Brandis, the only winner in the history of the Grand Pardubice Steeplechase

If a catalogue of great women in the history of our country were to be created, surely this extraordinary woman, who managed to make a name for herself in a field that was almost exclusively the domain of men – i.e. in obstacle riding, and at the competition level, should not be missing from it.

A challenging race

The Great Pardubice Steeplechase, known by the shorter name of the Great Pardubice, is an obstacle race that is one of the toughest on the European continent and has been run since 1874, with the racecourse itself being almost another 20 years older. This race is therefore also one of the traditional sporting events associated with our country. The track measures 6900 metres and features 31 obstacles of various types. The alternating different surfaces also contribute to the difficulty of the course.

The Hopeless Rider


Lata Brandis was born in 1895 into an aristocratic family originally from Tyrol. From childhood she was devoted to horses and also to riding and attended horse races. At first she participated only in women’s races, but with the support of her cousin from the Kinski family she began to train systematically and to participate in races that used to be purely male. The problem was her first entry for the start of the Great Pardubice, because at that time this race was mostly attended by army officers who did not want to allow a woman to stand against them in the starting field. In the end, however, they did not succeed with their protests and Lata Brandis took part in the Great Pardubice for the first time in 1927, when she was the first woman in the history of the race to finish it.

Winning by a landslide

Norma, a half-bred swimming mare from the Kinsky stables, was the fateful horse for the promising rider. She was not only a hardy and excellent jumper, but also suited the softer female lead.

The breakthrough year for both rider and mare was 1937. Lata was 42 years old, Norma 10, and both were in excellent condition. The Czechoslovak riders, including Lata, were under great pressure, because in the difficult pre-war situation, when the national interests of Czechs and Germans crossed, a victory of the Czech horse and rider was needed. In the 56th edition of the race, which took place on 17 October, the best representatives of German equestrian sport took part, with a total of 15 horses at the start. In the end, Lata managed a triple Czech triumph with the victory, namely:

  • the victory of a Czech rider
  • the victory of a Czech mare, and
  • the victory of a horse belonging to a Czech owner.

At the finish line she was greeted with enthusiastic applause by 40,000 spectators.

Dostih in the name of Mrs. Lata

As part of the racing festival that the Great Pardubice Festival presents every year, several races are run, with the Great Pardubice being the last, main race of the day. One of the framework races that is run on this day is the Laty Brandis Prize, which since 2015 is a steeplechase cross-country race of 4200 metres.

The racecourse in Pardubice is still waiting for another female winner of the main race…