A letter from PKRF founder and organiser James Nolan.
The 32nd running of the “Have the Conversation – Say YES to Organ Donation” Punchestown Charity Race took place on Saturday 29th April 2023. The weather was absolutely fantastic and people stayed on in their thousands to cheer on all the jockeys and create a wonderful atmosphere providing a fitting finale to the Festival. Local Kilcullen championship winning footballer, Paul Bell expertly steered home Stuzzikini trained by Gordon Elliot to win the race from local Kilcullen beautician Sinead Smullen on board Jungle Cove trained by Jessica Harrington with Triona Burbage back in third on Diamondinthemud trained by Nigel Slevin. There really was an amazing atmosphere and most importantly all our jockeys completed safely and enjoyed the privilege of riding at the Punchestown Festival.
2023 was quite simply another phenomenal year for the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund. The Jockeys managed to raise €94,158 on the day of the event, which is a new record for the past 32 years of the Charity Race. This means that the cumulative total raised to date is €1,796,835, which is absolutely incredible.
During the past two years we managed to support the following projects:
• We sponsored and helped the IKA establish a pilot peer support program for all kidney patients in Ireland. This program offers vital supports to patients and their families who are dealing with all the various issues and concerns that is all part of being a dialysis or transplant patient.
• We established the James Tracy/PKRF/Kidney Beam Exercise program for all Dialysis & Transplant patients, which will enable all patients to access free, online, live and on demand exercise classes, specifically tailored to all different levels of fitness and specifically for kidney patients.
• We continued our research into Polycystic Kidney Disease in partnership with the Irish Nephrology Society under the guidance of the Irish Research Council.
• We continued our support for our Art Therapy programs for Dialysis Patients in Tallaght & Waterford Dialysis Units – and we will expand this to Wexford in 2024.
• We continued to support Sports Programs for Dialysis & Transplant Patients.
• We organised a trip to Lourdes for one Dialysis patient and a carer.
So many people deserve huge thanks for making the charity race such an unbelievable success. The Punchestown Kidney Research Fund enjoys the privilege of being permitted to run our Charity Race during the Irish National Hunt Racing Festival at Punchestown Racecourse. Great credit is due to all the Team at Punchestown Racecourse who make our race day so special, as well as all the staff at The Turf Club who so generously volunteer their services on the day and also the staff at H.R.I. & R.A.C.E. who ensure our race is run correctly.
We are very grateful to all the owners and the trainers who have given continued support to our race, every year, for the past 32 years. We would like to acknowledge the various forms of media, whose coverage of our race in whatever way, is hugely important both to our charity and to all those people awaiting life-saving transplants; you all give hope to so many others by raising the profile of Organ Donor Awareness in Ireland.
On behalf of the charity I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund in any small way at all, as this has helped us to support various projects which, in turn improves the quality of life for those patients living with kidney illness and also helps us to create positive Organ Donor Awareness in Ireland.
I wish everyone continued good health.
Punchestown Racecourse today announced details of the new look Punchestown Winter Festival that will take place on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th November.
The home of Irish jump racing will embrace the new later dates and roll out a festive feel across the weekend where, in addition to brilliant sport, there will be live music each evening, a special edition shopping village, FREE family fun and delicious seasonal additions to the food and beverage menus.
Central to the overhaul is the improved top class racing line-up with a prize fund of €500,000. A thrilling cross-weekend grade one double header stars the Unibet Morgiana Hurdle on day one, Saturday 25th November and the John Durkan Memorial Chase settling into its new home on day two, Sunday 26th November.
This year’s Durkan Chase is shaping up to be a blockbuster with a clash of gold cup heroes in store as the Willie Mullins trained Cheltenham Gold cup victor Galopin Des Champs bids to reverse fortunes with Punchestown Gold Cup champion Fast Or Slow owned by Ballymore Eustace Mulryan family.
The Punchestown Winter Festival continues to focus on community and the next generation with a full weekend of free family entertainment, Irish made craft and fundraising. A family ticket costs just €25 for two adults and young children and includes access to The Playroom and activities. Whilst the stars of racing will be on show on the track, Santa the ultimate festive celebrity, will be meeting and greeting around the enclosures. The Playroom will be in open from 11.30am to 3pm both days offering games, Santa letter station, face painting, creative craft zone and more. Meanwhile, in the grand stand a special edition shopping village will create great atmosphere and Christmas shopping opportunities.
The Newbridge Branch of Guide Dogs Ireland and Kildare Down Syndrome will be fundraising across the weekend. Punchestown will be a drop off point for the county toy and gift appeal. Race goers that can afford to and would like to take part are encouraged to bring along new toys, clothes, tinned food or gift cards which they can drop off at the allocated collection point. All donations will go to the Naas Point centre who will distribute to local charities and families in need.
The timing of the big weekend has proved popular for social gatherings and special occasions. Those meeting friends to enjoy the great selection bars and live music will be happy to hear that a shuttle bus service to Naas will be available after racing each day. The Race & Dine package is almost fully booked for the Saturday with Sunday appealing to the family lunch market. Meanwhile those travelling from Dublin can avail of direct transfers with Marathon Travel from the quays.
Punchestown CEO Conor O’Neill is looking forward to the refreshed feature meeting “After the April festival this winter weekend is our next priority. We have really elevated the racing programme and to have two grade ones across the weekend is excellent. The dates will also make sense for many to kick off the festive season so we’ve ramped up the entertainment for all age groups. In line with our festival overhaul we continue to focus on value, catering for all ages and tastes whilst giving back to community and charity. There will be great sport, food, music, fun and games for all. As we always say People Make Punchestown and we look forward to welcoming friends old and new on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th November.
Punchestown Winter Festival Quick Guide:
The Punchestown Winter Festival takes place Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th November.
- First race 11.40am. Last race 3.30/3.45.
- Live music after racing both days.
- Shuttle bus to Naas after racing. Pay as you go.
- Advance tickets are just €15 (€20 on the day).
- Families can purchase a €25 ticket on the day includes free entertainment.
- Seniors and Students pay €15 on the day.
- The Feedroom and Hay Café offering delicious seasonal dishes, snacks, tea/coffee and pastries open to all.
- For further information please visit www.punchestown.com or call 045 897704
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Punchestown Announce Exciting Festival Changes as 2024 Campaign Launches
Punchestown Racecourse today released details of exciting plans and enhancements for the 2024 Punchestown Festival as the home of Irish jump racing prepare to launch ticket, hospitality and general sales for the flagship event running from Tuesday 30th April to Saturday 4th May.
The four-step plan has evolved from customer feedback, business analysis, market research and consultation. The scale of the five-day fixture, the commercial implications, economic impact and stakeholders are all considered when making such worthwhile and strategic alterations.
The Four Key Changes for Punchestown Festival 2024 include:
- Earlier Start Times
The first two days of the 2024 Punchestown Festival will revert to a 2.30pm start from the current time of 3.40pm. Market research shows that around 70% of paying clients would ‘definitely or most probably’ like to see some of the festival days start and finish earlier. This will assist with travel and post racing arrangements.
- Ticket Products and Pricing
Whether it’s a business or a household we fully appreciate that value for money is particularly important now more than ever. Following a full review of ticket pricing and products there will be a price reduction to €30 for the first three days and €40 for Friday and Saturday. As a premium sport and leisure event these prices compare very favourably.
There will be no early bird offers or promotions just one great value ticket offering for advance purchases.
The original Flexi ticket will be replaced by the new Choice Ticket that can be used Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday.
Senior, student, group and family ticket concessions continue and all children under 14 years of age race for free all season. Full value details available on www.punchestown.com
- Refreshed Festival Layout
The festival layout will undergo a full refresh including the removal of the traditional reserved enclosure and the introduction of new racegoer amenities. The objective is to optimise the scope of the enclosures, utilise all available facilities which in turn will improve footfall flow and reduce potential pressure points.
- Enhance & Improve Raceday Experience
This point is neither new nor dynamic as the pursuit of excellent customer experience is an ongoing process. The enhancement of the race day visit will go hand-in-hand with the new layout. The Punchestown demographic is a diverse one with varied tastes and requirements for a memorable customer experience. Alongside our catering and service partners, we aim to deliver a selection of great quality food and beverage options with efficient, friendly service in comfortable surroundings.
Conor O’Neill Punchestown CEO explained the theory behind the proposed plan “Today’s announcement is a very positive one. We greatly appreciate feedback, good and bad as without it we cannot improve the product which we offer. If we’re not improving we’re going backwards, it’s as simple as that and in the current climate that is not something any business can afford to do.
O’Neill continued: “We say it time and time again that people make Punchestown, so it is those very people who have shaped and informed this plan and it is this plan that will help us deliver the best possible Punchestown experience we can to our customers who are the backbone of our business. If it doesn’t work for the customer it ultimately won’t work for Punchestown, so I hope we’ve got the balance right as we look ahead to the 2024 Punchestown Festival.”
The 2024 Punchestown Festival will take place from Tuesday 30th April to Saturday 4th May. Tickets are now on sale. For full information please visit www.punchestown.com
Punchestown Festival 2024 Advance Ticket Prices
Tuesday/Wednesday/ Thursday €30
Friday and Saturday €40
Student and Senior receive a €10 discount on the day with proof of ID
*New product* The Choice Ticket – can be used on either Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday – €35
Saturday Family Ticket for two adults and children €50
Under 14 years of age race for free all year at Punchestown.
Group of 10 people plus receive discounts.
There will be no Flexi ticket available for the 2024 Festival.
*Advance Tickets are those booked and paid for by 10pm the night before the race day.
The later start time of first race at 3.45pm was introduced in 2009 during the economic crisis to accommodate racegoers looking to facilitate at least a half day at work. In recent years there has been an increasing demand from customers from both UK visitors, those who may travel significant journeys and festival goers who wished to make post racing plans to consider earlier start times. Local restaurants and pubs should welcome this news which will increase après racing trade.
IT’S SUMMER IN TOWN TIME
When – Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 June 2023
What – A fun and relaxed weekend of racing with live music, BBQ, childrens entertainment, sports coverage and shuttle bus into Naas after racing.
First race – 2.30 Saturday and 2.15 Sunday (if there is an additional race racing may commence half an hour earlier. This will be confirmed at 48 hours before the race day)
Tickets – Buy in advance to save €5 per person and get a free racecard on the day – €15. On the day tickets – €20. Family deal on the day is €25 for two adults and ‘smallies’.
Food Options – BBQ Box and The Feedroom Cafe will be open both days with a selection of hot and cold dishes, barista coffee, delicious bakes and snacks.
Beverages – The Loft Bar, Madigans Bar and Pop Up Bars will be serving throughout the day. ID may be requested.
Elevate Your Weekend – The famous Race & Dine package with delicious four course lunch overlooking the track is the ultimate treat for just €89pp. The Punchestown Private Collection offers a variety of exclusive suites with various dining options for your special occasion.
Punchestown racecourse invites you to join the end of season celebration with a two day mini-festival taking place on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th June.
The Summer in Town meeting will have a relaxed, laid back festival vibe with special entertainment planned for each day. On Saturday 10th June there will be live music, buzzing bar scene, full sports coverage on big screens and of course great racing. All activities will be centered around the parade ring, horse walk and champions garden with delicious BBQ meal deals prepared and served by Lily and Wild. Younger racegoers will love the free fun zone in The Playroom with games, activities and face painting. The famous Punchestown Race & Dine packages are proving as popular as ever with The Watchhouse restaurant nearing full capacity and suites busy with special occasion celebrations. For customer’s convenience a Naas shuttle bus service will be in operation after racing for just €5 per person.
Day two of the Summer In Town meeting will see the focus shift to families and community. In addition to an afternoon of great racing action there will be children’s entertainment, games, face painting, bunting and picnic benches, The Ptown Ice Cream Van, The Playroom and up-close access to horses and jockeys. Early in the day Fit Club @ Punchestown takes place with €2,000 cash on offer in the inter club fitness fundraising challenge.
Punchestown supporters and festival goers will be interested to visit the exhibition of photos that have been chosen as finalists of the Punchestown – More than Horses photography competition. This initiative was run in association with Bermingham Cameras during the 2023 Punchestown Festival. Photography students, enthusiasts and club members were invited ‘to attempt to capture Punchestown in a photo where the subject is not necessarily the horse but more about the people, place and occasion”. Over fifty photographers took part throughout the event and the overall winner will be selected on Sunday 11th June.
Looking ahead to the Summer In Town mini-festival Punchestown CEO Conor O’Neill said “There is a real end of school term feel about the Summer in Town mini-festival. Punchestown mirrors the school year. We kick off in September, have a few big tests through the winter and then the business end of the season is the festival followed by a relaxing and enjoyable end of season party before the summer holidays. A lovely summers weekend at Punchestown would be a wonderful way to thank everyone for their support during the season and we really do look forward to seeing friends old and new on June 10th and 11th”.
Following the Summer In Town fixture, the home of Irish jump racing then takes the traditional break until mid-September when racing returns with a flat meeting before getting back to business in mid October for the jump season proper.
Want to Win €2,000 for your sports club?
Presenting Fit Club @ Punchestown on Sunday 11th June 2023
Punchestown Racecourse, in association with Primal Performance & Fitness, today announced a community event to help local sports clubs to fundraise, win a €2,000 cash prize bonus and enjoy an afternoon of family fun at the races.
How Does it work?
The competition is open to all sports clubs from GAA, athletics, tennis, cross fit, rugby – basically any fitness based club.
Twelve lucky clubs will be selected. Each club will nominate a team of four members with two females and two males. One member must be under 18 years of age.
There will be three team challenges based on strength, agility, fitness and most importantly teamwork!
Show Me The Money?
The winning team will receive a €2000 cash prize.
Each team will have the opportunity to fund raise by purchasing heavily discounted tickets which they then sell to supporters and club members to come along and enjoy the day. Minimum of 30 tickets per club.
When and Where?
Taking place before racing on day two of the Summer In Town meeting Sunday 11th June from 12.30. There will be two events pre-racing and a final decider after the first race followed by presentations and a relaxing afternoon of family fun.
The Punchestown Summer In Town mini-festival takes place on Saturday 10 & Sunday 11 June 2023. Summer in Town Saturday is a great social occasion with great racing, live music, tasty food and live match coverage.
How to Enter:
- Gather the troops & register your club by emailing Emma at email@example.com with the club name, contact name and mobile number.
- Closing Date: Friday 26 May
- Final list of clubs will be announced on Monday 29 May
- Further details to follow
An additional fixture has been announced for Punchestown on Tuesday, May 23
Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) has announced there will be an additional meeting at Punchestown on Tuesday afternoon, May 23. This meeting is one of the three floating fixtures that were kept in reserve when the 2023 fixture list was published in order to meet the demands of the horse population at specific times of the year.
This meeting will close for entries by 12 noon on Thursday May 18 with declarations to run to be made by 10am on Sunday May 21.
The race programme details for this meeting will be published in due course and the time of the first race will be at 1.45pm.
Advance bookings save €5. €15 admission on the day.
Punchestown Returns with The Homecoming Festival
Media Release : They’re coming home! The winners, the heroes and the champions return to the home of Irish jump racing for the grand finale of the season as the 2023 Punchestown Festival returns from Tuesday 25th to Saturday 29th April.
Organisers anticipate an attendance of 110,000 people across the five-day event that attracts visitors from throughout Ireland, the UK and further afield. The main attraction is the prestigious top-class racing that showcases the very best of Irish racing talent including Rachael Blackmore, Willie Mullins , Henry de Bromhead and Paul Townend. Visiting trainers from the UK are an integral feature of the festival with regulars such as Nicky Henderson, Paul Nicholls and new comer Olly Murphy sending horses across. A fully subscribed sponsorship portfolio of 50 event partners delivers an impressive prize fund of over €3.3 million on offer across forty races including twelve grade one contests. The entries for the flagship races are now closed and feature equine superstars including major festival players Galopin Des Champs, Energumene, Bravemansgame and Envoi Allen.
People make Punchestown and key to all great celebrations is the combination of guest list, live entertainment, delicious food, amazing style and this is where the Punchestown Festival delivers in spades. Over 17,000 hospitality clients from 795 companies, 158 of which are UK based, will enjoy delicious seasonal menus prepared and served by 60 chefs, 420 catering staff and 280 bar staff. Catering for this number means large scale and three tonnes of fresh vegetables, over 60 kilos of artisan cheeses and 15,000 portions of petit four desserts and canapes will be enjoyed over the five days. Throughout the pavilions, bars and enclosures the atmosphere builds with live music, street theatre and DJ sets running alongside shopping village and full entertainment programme.
The Bollinger Best Dressed competition is one of Ireland’s most prestigious style contests in the country with finalists chosen across the first four days progressing to the final on ladies day, Friday 28th April. Open to all, the fresh take on race day style encourages racegoers of all ages to be creative, sustainable and brave in a bid to win the ‘money can’t buy’ prize to Paris and The Bollinger Chateuax in Champagne region. An all-star cast featuring some of Ireland’s most popular style names make up The Style Council who will select the winners.
As one of Ireland’s largest events the Punchestown Festival is big business bringing a massive boost to the local economy with over €25 million generated through tourism, leisure and associated spends. However, the event also plays a significant community roll working alongside local GAA clubs and charities to generate funds through volunteer schemes and fundraising initiatives. The Punchestown Kidney Research Charity race, now in its 32 year, has raised close to €2 million and is joined this year by charities Barretstown, Samaritans, Cara Girls Project and Cystic Fibrosis Ireland.
Punchestown CEO Conor O’Neill looked ahead to the event: “The Punchestown Festival is a combination of so many moving parts. A showcase of Irish sporting excellence, one of the largest corporate events in the country, a huge social occasion, an essential fundraiser and a gathering of 100,000 people of all ages, urban and rural who will share in a memorable experience. People make Punchestown and we look forward to welcoming friends old and new to the home of Irish racing for the last week of April”.
For further information please contact:
Shona Dreaper, Punchestown Racecourse
Contact: 045 897704 or firstname.lastname@example.org
No-repro Fee images – https://we.tl/t-RJBYK6NqvW
Social Media Assets – https://we.tl/t-62fmsDzTh0
The 2022 Punchestown Festival takes place from Tuesday 25th to Saturday 29th April.
Tickets from €35pp are available at www.punchestown.com Pre-booking is advised.
Discount group deals are available online.
Concession senior and student tickets are only available to purchase on the day.
Contactless payment available throughout the venue. Cash accepted but visitors are advised to collect cash in advance of their arrival to avoid queues.
Energumene will have five rivals in the William Hill Champion Chase as he bids for a second consecutive Cheltenham-Punchestown double following declarations for Tuesday’s opening leg of the five-day Punchestown Festival, which boasts prize money of €3.3m throughout the week. Tony Bloom’s brilliant two-mile chaser would be winning at the festival for the third year in a row were he to prevail but his trainer, Willie Mullins has certainly not spared him in terms of opposition.
The soon-to-be 17-time champion trainer also saddles open Grade 1 winners Blue Lord, Gentleman De Mee and Chacun Pour Soi, the latter announcing himself as a force at the festival in 2019 when galloping to victory in the Barberstown Castle Novice Chase, which was won two years later by Blue Lord. That season, Chacun Pour Soi added the William Hill Champion Chase to his record and he finished runner-up last term to Energumene. Gentleman De Mee missed out on Cheltenham and will be the freshest of the quartet as a result and while Mullins admitted in his Punchestown preview this week that it would be hard to see Energumene beaten on his favourite soft ground, Gentleman De Mee’s seven-length defeat of Blue Lord in the Dublin Chase at Leopardstown in February illustrated his ability on a sounder surface. He is the likely pace angle in the race.
Henry de Bromhead’d Magic Daze is also likely to be prominent and travelling exertions excepted, should be relatively fresh too having been left at the start in the Mares’ Chase at Cheltenham. She had been an impressive winner of a listed mares’ chase at Naas before that. The declaration of Rebel Gold is an interesting one and trainer Pat Foley admits that he is chasing some prize money with a progressive horses who he expects to see the best of next season. Foley has enjoyed a tremendous campaign, scoring at a strike rate of 19 per cent and Rebel Gold has been his flagbearer, winning the Dan & Joan Moore at Fairyhouse before securing the Grade 3 Newlands Chase at Naas with Denis O’Regan in the plate on each occasion.
The Aughabeg trainer learned his craft by the side of his late father, Tom and enjoyed some wonderful occasions at Punchestown, a track where the People’s Champion, Danoli scored three times. He cuts a realistic approach to his current star’s prospects.
“The original plan was to go to Fairyhouse for the Grade 2 but we just got a bit of a setback,” said Foley today. “After he won in Naas, Denis said it’d be no harm to give him an entry in some of the good races as they can cut up a little bit. So maybe it’s all for luck. “He had a slight muscle strain so we didn’t want to take the chance on it in Fairyhouse but we’re quite happy with the horse now and we’ll let him take his chance. The most realistic goal is probably to finish fourth but even if he finishes sixth of the six, you’re picking up prize money and on ratings, we are the lowest rated horse in it. If he’d had a proper clear run, I’d be going there hoping to beat one or two of them but we’re not going to be in any way disappointed wherever he finishes.
“We’re really looking forward to next season with him. He definitely improved this season. He’s a big, backward horse. It was my own mistake last year, trying to step him up in trip and make him a stayer, where he’s really an out-and-out two-miler. We’ll be keeping him at that trip and in graded races.
“I remember Danoli going to Punchestown and it’s been a lucky track even for myself since I started. The horses have been doing well there. It’s lovely to be going there, even if it may be a step too far for him this time, but it won’t do any harm to let people see you have a horse good enough to compete in some of these races. If he puts in a decent run we’ll all be very, very happy.”
The KPMG Champion Novice Hurdle is the first of the festival’s 12 Grade 1s and five horses have been declared, with Supreme Novices’ Hurdle second and third, Facile Vega and Diverge, as well as Dublin Racing Festival Grade 1 winner Il Etait Temps representing Willie Mullins, while local trainer Oliver McKiernan saddles No Looking Back. Gordon Elliott’s Found A Fifty completes the field, with the fit-again Jordan Gainford getting the leg up. “Things just didn’t work out for Found A Fifty at Aintree,” said Elliott earlier this week. “He’s a very talented animal and we didn’t see the best of him there and he’s one to be very excited about for the coming seasons.”
There are six contestants for the Grade 1 Dooley Insurance Champion Novice Chase, which sees Willie Mullins stepping Appreciate It up to three miles for the first time since winning a point-to-point when in Pat Doyle’s care five years ago. Derek O’Connor rode Appreciate It that day and he was also in the saddle when the then Ellmarie Holden-trained Sir Gerhard scored through the flags but Mullins decided to give him a try at three miles for the first time under Rules as well, to see if he can rediscover his hurdle form over the larger obstacles. James Du Berlais and Classic Getaway complete the Mullins squad. Emmet Mullins has an intriguing runner in Feronily, who has been campaigned aggressively all season, despite only winning his point-to-point – again under Derek O’Connor – last November. Since then, the Paul Byrne-owned six-year-old has been third in a Grade 2 bumper, made his hurdling debut when fourth in a Grade 2 hurdle and then finished runner-up on his chasing debut at Grade 3 level a fortnight ago. Journey With Me also has a chance for the in-form Henry de Bromhead yard, coming into the race off a good Grade 3 victory in Naas having previously been just touched off by subsequent Cheltenham victor Impervious at Punchestown.