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Punchestown News

Punchestown News: Pucnhestown Welcomes Friends First

Posted: 20th Apr 2017

Press Release: Thursday 20th April 

Punchestown Welcomes Friends First as La Touche Sponsors

Punchestown Racecourse today announced that Friends First, one of Ireland's oldest and most established life assurance companies, will be the new sponsors of the famous La Touche Cross Country race at the upcoming Punchestown Festival, Tuesday 25th to Saturday 29th April 2017.

The €30,000 Friends First La Touche Cup will take place on day three of the Festival, Thursday April 27th and is one of the most historic and famous races on the Irish jump racing calendar. The four mile one furlong stamina test incorporates 35 jumping efforts over a combination of natural obstacles such as laurel hedges, drop banks and traditional steeplechase fences. Despite being one of the longest races on the jumps racing circuit the Friends First La Touche often produces the most thrilling close finishes.

Speaking about the new sponsorship, Brian O'Neill, Marketing Director with Friends First commented "Friends are delighted to be a part of this prestigious festival and in particular to be involved with the historic and famous Friends First La Touche Cup which we look forward to with anticipation. Congratulations to all those involved with the festival and best of luck to the trainers, jockeys and their teams.”

Fame surrounds this historic race where the most notorious obstacle on the track is Ruby’s Double Bank named after the champion jockeys late grandfather Ruby Walsh Senior. Probably the most famous winning connection in the race was former James Bond actor Sean Connery who was involved with seven times winner of the Friends First La Touche, Risk Of Thunder.

Janet Creighton, Head of Sponsorship and Sales at Punchestown said “The Friends First La Touche Cross Country race is embedded in the history and heritage of Punchestown. Friends First company origins go right back to 1834 so it's fair to say both companies come together with very strong foundations. It has been a pleasure to work with the team at Friends First and we look forward to introducing them to one of the highlights on the Irish social and sporting calendar”.

The 2017 Punchestown Festival takes place from Tuesday 25th to Saturday 29th April. Tickets are available from just €25pp with famous hospitality packages starting from just €99pp. Please visit www.punchestown.com for full event details.


Editor Notes:
About Friends First:
Friends First is one of Ireland’s oldest and most established Life Assurance companies, meeting the financial needs of our customers since 1834. We have over 281,000 customers and employ over 300 people in Ireland. Friends First is fully owned by the Dutch Insurance Group, Achmea, one of Europe’s leading insurance players.


Friends First Life Assurance Company manages total assets of €4bn, generated Total Premiums of €602m in 2016 and is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. At Friends First, we are focused on providing leading protection, retirement and investment solutions which are tailored to your individual needs and will provide you with the required benefits when they are needed most. We want to assist you in meeting your goals through your lifetime, but acknowledge that your needs and circumstances will change. So where possible our products are flexible offering a range of options and alternatives which you can choose during the term of your plan.


Achmea was founded in the Netherlands in 1811 as a mutual insurance company with strong co-operative roots. Its main shareholders are the Achmea Association, a representative body of its customers and Rabobank also a mutual organisation which is one of Europe’s leading banks. Achmea remains committed to the mutual ownership model, being the largest mutual/cooperative company in Europe, with a strong focus on developing products and services that meet its individual and corporate customer’s needs. As a result, Achmea is not listed on any stock exchange.
Achmea employs 14,500 people in its Dutch and international operations. It insures over 8 million people in The Netherlands, one of the top 10 largest insurance markets in the world.


In the Dutch market, Achmea is the largest provider of non-life, health and income protection insurance and is also a leading provider of life and pensions. Achmea manages total assets of €93bn and had total equity of €9.8bn in 2016. It generated total premiums of €19.5bn from its domestic and international operations to that date. Achmea holds a financial strength and long-term counterparty credit rating (Standard & Poors) of A and had solvency cover of 1.8 times the minimum margin at end 2016. In addition to the Netherlands, Achmea is also active in 5 other countries including Ireland, Turkey, Greece, Slovakia and Australia. Achmea’s aim is to consolidate its market leadership in the Netherlands and to build an integrated, pan-European Insurance group by developing significant market positions in a number of international markets where it is present. Achmea, resulting from its ability to adapt to a changed market environment but remain true to its mutual ethos, now aspires to become the most trusted insurer in its home market and ultimately in international markets where it is present through operating companies. 

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