Although the Czech Republic is better known in sporting circles for its ice hockey and football prowess, it also has a surprisingly strong horse-racing tradition, which dates back to the days of the Habsburg Empire. For well over a century, the highlight of the racing season in this country has been the Velka Pardubicka steeplechase, which is sometimes known as the "Czech Grand National".
In Sports News this week: Sixteen ridden by Dusan Andres wins the Czech Republic's most famous horse race, the Velka Pardubicka steeplechase; Czech motorcyclist Lukas Pesek wins the second Grand Prix of his career in Australia; and captain Tomas Rosicky is set to play in Wednesday's Euro 2008 qualifier against Germany.
One of the country's leading football referees, Dagmar Damkova, reached a career milestone last week when she officiated at the women's World Cup semi-final in China. Her presence at the game was also a landmark for Czech football: no Czech referee has gotten as far. I spoke to Mrs Damkova right after she came back from China and began by asking about her impressions from the tournament.
In Sports News: Sparta Prague leave it late to take all three points against Jablonec, while Slavia run riot in a 7:1 win over Zlin; the Czech women's basketball team bounce back after an embarrassing defeat by Germany to overcome Lithuania at the European Championships; Tomas Berdych suffers a surprise exit in the semi-finals at the Thailand Open; and the Czechs draw Belgium in the Davis Cup World Group.
In Sports News: Radek Stepanek plays through the pain barrier in a tie against Switzerland to help the Czech Republic maintain their place at the top table in tennis's Davis Cup; after their successful start in the Champions League, Slavia Prague are brought back to earth with a bang by Bohemians 1905 in the Czech first division; canoeist Stepanka Hilgertova takes bronze at the Slalom World Championships; and world champion Barbora Spotakova extends her own Czech record in the javelin.
"The Dream Continues" is how the Czech daily Sport titled Wednesday night's triumph, referring to football side Slavia's win in the team's first ever Champions League match. Slavia downed Steaua Bucharest 2:1 in the group stage game held at Prague's Evzen Rosicky stadium, earning their first three points.
Even before the first whistle in Wednesday evening's football Euro qualifier between the Czech Republic and Ireland, the game was being described as autumn's big event. There was no question that the Czechs - who had been suffering from poor form and had come under heaps of criticism of late - needed to win against Ireland to keep them in qualifying contention. They succeeded: on the night the Czechs played their most inspired game in months, just edging their opponents.
Wednesday has been called "do or die" for the Czech national football squad if the team hopes to compete at Euro 2008 next year in Austria and Switzerland. To secure a tighter hold on the crucial second spot in Group D the Czechs would ideally need to win Wednesday night against visitors Ireland, but many pundits are sceptical that will happen.