Photo of the Month, October 2020 - Fall


“This photograph was taken on 11 October 2020 during the 130th annual Velká pardubická steeplechase. It shows jockey Jan Kratochvíl falling from his horse Sottovento while jumping the Taxis ditch. While the jockey himself was fine, the bay horse suffered fatal injuries after the subsequent impact. Velká pardubická has taken place since 1874, and one of the course’s 34 obstacles is the jump given the name Taxis (or Velký Taxisův příkop). This is only jumped once a year, and riders are not allowed to use it for training. The Taxis ditch is difficult because behind the obstacle itself (a hedge) is a metre-deep ditch which needs to be overcome with a fairly long jump. Because of its difficulty, the Taxis ditch is well-known and respected across practically the entire world. It is a kind of iconic symbol and it would be hard to imagine Velká pardubická without it. For safety reasons, the ditch was significantly modified in 1993. Since that time, there have not been as many falls and collisions there as there had been before. It was my eighteenth time taking photos of Velká pardubická, and this photo was taken using a remote flash. Because I take photos for ČTK (the Czech News Agency), the first photographs are sent to the newsroom during the course of the race itself, and the most wanted shots are from Taxis, from the home stretch at the finish line, and from the decoration of the winners. It’s a kind of mosaic of the most important moments of this spectacular race, comprising both wonderful ultimate sporting moments, and sometimes alas also moments much less fortunate,” says the author.

Photo: Roman Vondrouš

Roman Vondrouš
Roman Vondrouš was born in 1975 in Pardubice, and completed a master’s degree at the Silesian University in Opava’s Institute of Creative Photography. He is currently a doctoral student at the same university. He has worked as a press photographer for the Czech News Agency for a number of years. He won top prize in the prestigious international World Press Photo 2013 contest in the Sport category, and has won a number of awards in the national Czech Press Photo contest. More information on the author is available at his website,

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