Posted: 29th Mar 2018
The Great British Race Off at Punchestown
Entries for the Punchestown Festival grade one races will close next Wednesday and following on from the most lucrative ever raid by British trainers at the meeting last year, officials at the track are looking forward to another strong representation from across the Irish Sea. With a record level prize fund of €3,045,000 and further enhancements to the programme the strength and depth of quality looks set to increase even further for the 2018 renewal.
Little else stokes the fire like a good sporting rivalry between Ireland and England and while the Prestbury Cup result is still fresh in industry minds, it is worth noting that the 2017 campaign by British runners at Punchestown was the most successful one with €645,450 in prize money claimed by the visitors. Last year over 56 per cent of the British horses that ran at Punchestown either won or were placed over the five days.
Colin Tizzard’s Fox Norton won the BoyleSports Champion Chase to follow God’s Own who won the race in 2016 for trainer Tom George. Unowhatimeanharry, trained to victory by Harry Fry, was the second consecutive English trained winner of the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle as Warren Greatrex had saddled One Track Mind to win the race 12-months previously.
Looking forward to another return visit trainer Harry Fry said “Our grade one winner at Punchestown last year was the highlight of our season with Unowhatimeanharry bouncing back from a disappointing run at Cheltenham to come out on top in a fantastic tussle with Nichols Canyon. We will be sending a strong team again this year as we and the owners really enjoy it. There is a great atmosphere and the fantastic prize money helps! Fry continued with news of Fletchers Flyer “The first year we went to Punchestown we had a winner with Fletchers Flyer and our plan is to return there with him for the race that he won in what will be the final run of his career”.
There were six English winners and 24 placed horses in total at the Punchestown Festival last year carrying on the rich tradition of successful raids with trainers including Nicky Henderson, Paul Nicholls and Philip Hobbs enjoying plenty of big winners at Punchestown over the years.The 2018 Punchestown Festival will run from Tuesday 24th to Saturday 28th April. For full event details please visit www.punchestown.com
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