Punchestown racecourse are delighted to welcome Kildare based landscaping firm Oak Lodge to the sponsorship panel ahead of the 2022 Punchestown Winter Festival on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th November.
The Oak Lodge Landscapes Craddockstown Novice Chase takes centre stage on the opening day of the winter feature at the home of Irish jump racing. The grade two contest over two miles holds a €36,500 prize fund and has been a happy hunting ground for high quality champion chase contenders. Previous winners include the Alan & Ann Pott’s owned top class duo Sizing John and Sizing Europe with the great Moscow Flyer featuring even further back in the roll of honour.
Whilst Waterford trainer Henry de Bromhead has an excellent strike rate in the Oak Lodge Landscape Chase, it is Gordon Elliott who will bid for a hat trick of wins having landed the spoils with Felix Desjy and Reviere D’etel in 2020 and 2021.
The Oak Lodge Landscape connection is a local one with founders and directors Cathal and Samantha Kavanagh based in the Naas area. Oak Lodge was established over 20 years ago and the family run firm employs five team members with this number fluctuating greatly during the busy summer months. Originally domestic and private projects accounted for a majority of the business however, as owner Cathal Kavanagh explains, economics intervened: “During the financial crash people’s priorities changed and gardens were no longer high up on the list of household spending. Like many businesses we had to adapt to survive and ever since our company has strived in the commercial landscape maintenance market. We have national retail clients who’s properties we manage in addition to business parks and commercial settings alongside our domestic services”.
Offering some background to today’s sponsorship announcement Kavanagh continued: “I have been racing at Punchestown for as long as I can remember. It is a place that is close to us both literally and in the sense that we’ve enjoyed many great day’s there through the years. Getting involved and sponsoring was something I’ve always intended to do and now we’ve made it happen. We look forward to enjoying a Punchestown race day from a different angle when the Oak Lodge Landscapes Chase gets underway”.
Punchestown Sponsorship Manager Leona Hughes welcomed the Oak Lodge Landscapes news: “Cathal, Samantha and the Oak Lodge team are a wonderful addition to the Punchestown sponsorship profile and we look forward to partnering with them as they step into a sponsorship role here. Local business and community is a fundamental part of the Punchestown ethos and it is all the more special when the people involved have a personal connection to this special place. We thank Oak Lodge Landscapes for the wonderful support and look forward to working alongside them to provide a memorable Punchestown experience”.
The Punchestown Winter Festival takes place on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th November. In addition to the grade one Unibet Morgiana Hurdle and the grade two Oak Lodge Landscapes Craddockstown Chase there is an excellent support card of listed, graded and cross country action on offer across the two days. Racegoers of all ages are catered for with complimentary children’s play area for families however, those that may have outgrown the face painting stage can enjoy delicious dining, live music and bus transfers to Naas after racing. With a keen focus on value, the home of Irish jump racing is offering discounts and complimentary race cards for those who book in advance on www.punchestown.com
The first race goes to post approx 12 noon Saturday and 11.45 Sunday. gates and public dining venues open one and a half hours before racing.
For further information please contact:
Punchestown Marketing and Communications Manager
Phone: +353 (0) 45 897704 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Punchestown Racecourse were announced winner of The Best Sponsorship Team in association with The Irish Times at an award ceremony held in Clontarf Castle Hotel, Thursday 22nd September.
The Punchestown sponsorship team of Leona Hughes, Janet Creighton and Conor O’Neill held off stiff competition to secure the top spot with judges complimenting the attention to detail, innovative approach and dedicated client interaction received by sponsors. Despite being a small team the Punchestown staff manage a full portfolio of forty-three event sponsors at the annual five day racing festival each April in addition to a further fifty sponsors and partners at fixtures throughout the year. Punchestown are proud to say that as one of Ireland’s largest sporting events with a significant UK attendace, almost 50% of the festival sponsors are Kildare based companies, further emphasising the importance of community and support of independent or family owned enterprises. Among the Punchestown sponsorship line-up are bookmaker super firms Paddy Power, William Hill and Ladbrokes alongside leading global property developer Ballymore, luxury lifestyle icon Bollinger Champagne and household names from the media, tech, financial, tourism, insurance, motor and construction sectors.
The home of Irish jump racing was shortlisted in two categories at the Irish Sponsorship Awards both of which featured some stiff competition with leading marketing agencies and in-house sponsorship departments in attendance on the night. The Punchestown team narrowly missed out on a big award double when pipped to the post by Lidl Ireland Ladies National Football in the Best Sporting Event Sponsorship category.
Delighted to see the sponsors and team receive such recognition Punchestown CEO Conor O’Neill said “We are very proud to fly the flag for Irish racing in such a competitive industry. This award is particularly special for our loyal and amazingly supportive sponsors who have stuck with us through some truly challenging times in recent years. We always say that people make Punchestown and never was that as evident as during Covid when, despite empty enclosures and racing behind closed doors, our sponsors rallied and championed Punchestown. Without this level of support we cannot deliver one of Irelands most prestigious and loved sporting events. I would like to take this opportunity to give credit to our small team who, despite lining up against some of the biggest names in the industry, have shown that customer service, exceeding expectation with passion for people and place makes all the difference every time. We look forward to welcoming new sponsors to Punchestown ahead of our next season!”
The Punchestown racing season gets underway Tuesday 11th and Wednesday 12th October and runs through to June 2023. The Punchestown festival takes place from Tuesday 25th to Friday 29th April 2023. For further information please visit www.punchestown.com
Anglesey Lodge Give Back With New Punchestown Sponsorship
Monday 09/09/2022 – Internationally renowned equine hospital Anglesey Lodge will join the sponsorship line up for Punchestown’s season return meeting this Tuesday, September 13th when the Anglesey Lodge Equine Hospital Two-Year-Old Maiden will be the second race on the card at the Kildare track.
Punchestown completes the thoroughbred county hat trick as Anglesey Lodge are already involved with both the Curragh and Naas racecourses. Practice partner Mark MacRedmond (MVB CertVPM MRCVS) explained the thinking behind the contribution: “Our reason to be involved is pretty straight forward – we simply want to give back to the industry. Anglesey Lodge has been fortunate enough to work alongside so many brilliant training establishments from yards big and small throughout the region for over 45 years. Sponsoring and contributing to the prize funds is the most effective and direct way we can further support the industry and give back. MacRedmond continued “Another particularly important factor is of course was the passion that practise founder and renowned vet Ned Gowing had for Punchestown. Ned Gowing established Anglesey Lodge back in 1976 and throughout his distinguished career he would always make time for racecourse duty at Punchestown, a place he just loved”.
In addition, the Anglesey Lodge team celebrate one year at their new Friarstown base having moved from their former facility of 19 years which was located next door to the final straight of the Curragh racecourse. The new Anglesey Lodge home is a custom built facility on 12.5 acres with state of the art facilities including 70 stables, double surgical theatres, blood sample laboratory, diagnostic and examination rooms. A panel of 18 vets, specialist surgeons, nurses, nursing assistants, grooms, lab technicians, practise managers and admin staff combine to make up what has become one of the most highly regarded teams in the global equine hospital industry. Anglesey Lodge Equine Hospital offers a full service from specialist surgery, lameness and pre-purchase exams to advanced nuclear scintigraphy.
Welcoming the new sponsors to the home of Irish jump racing Punchestown CEO Conor O’Neill said “We are fortunate to have the fantastic people resources of Anglesey Lodge available to us on race days as part of the vet support panel. Horse welfare and safety is paramount at Punchestown and to have such strength and depth of veterinary experience on our doorstep means horses that compete here have the very best of assistance should they require it. We take this opportunity to thank Mark, Thomas, Juan and the team for their contribution to our first meeting of the 22/23 season and look forward to continuing our association with Anglesey Lodge for many years to come”.
The Anglesey Lodge Equine Hospital Two Year Old Maiden is the second race on the only all flat fixture at Punchestown. Action gets underway at 2pm.
Dream week continues for Mullins-Townend axis as Robbie Power announces retirement
Paul Townend is not only on his way to being crowned champion jockey in Ireland once again but he is doing so at an incredible 36 per cent strike rate which was helped today by the victory of Klassical Dream in the Ladbrokes Stayers Hurdle.
Another memorable week for Willie Mullins continued as Klassical Dream cruised through the field to take up the running in the first Grade 1 race on Day 3 of the Punchestown Festival and had to dig deep to fend off the bold effort of Ashdale Bob.
Klassical Dream’s second victory in the race was making it a clean sweep of championship races for the Mullins-Townend axis this week and the horse was becoming the first back-to-back winner of this race since Quevega, the dam of Wednesday’s Grade 1 winner Facile Vega.
“He got out of bed the right side this morning I think” joked Townend about his often idiosyncratic mount. “Everything went right for him, he behaved himself beautifully throughout the race and in the prelims. Here plays to all his strengths.”
“You make Plan A, B, C and D with this horse because he probably tells you what you’re doing with him as we’ve seen at Leopardstown.
“I could hear (Ashdale Bob) coming. I didn’t dare have a look see who it was but I’d a fair idea Puppy (Robbie Power) was going to be stalking me all the way around the way we lined up. I thought I was doing enough the whole way to the line. I don’t know if he was going to get by me at any stage.”
Willie Mullins was full of praise for his stable jockey. The trainer said: “He loves it at Punchestown. I thought Paul gave him a lovely, tidy ride. Settled him. Brought him late down to the start, got him away nice and relaxed and had him put to sleep for most of the race, so he was really good.
“It’s always better to hold onto him. He gets upset. I think he’s better held on to but he’s done it the opposite way, he’s jumped out and gone and made the running but it’s probably the best way.”
Robbie Power produced Ashdale Bob for a career best run but had to settle for minor honours on the day that the jockey announced would be his second last in the saddle.
The 40-year-old won the Pigsback.com Handicap Chase on Magic Daze for Henry de Bromhead and afterwards told Katie Walsh live on RTÉ that he would be retiring following the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle at Punchestown on Friday.
A winner of the Aintree, Irish and American Grand Nationals, Power rode 31 Grade 1 winners, many of them coming here at Punchestown and he completed the historic triple Gold Cup with Sizing John, which he regarded as one of the highlights of his career.
“It’s hard to pick one out but that day here on Sizing John when he won his third Gold Cup,” Power said reflecting on his illustrious career. “Djakadam and Coneygree (were in it). It was as good a race as I ever rode in and I got a huge buzz from that. I’ve had so many highs. I’ve had a wonderful career and hopefully the next two days go well.”
Speaking about his decision to call time on his career, he added: “It’s been torture the last couple of months with the hip pain. Without Enda King in Santry (Sports Clinic), Niamh Doyle, my physio at home, and Jennifer Pugh (IHRB senior medical officer), Maria Kealy (personal trainer), John Butler (Racecourse physio), there’s been so many people helped me along the way to get me through it and (my wife) Hannah has been very understanding because I’ve been fairly grumpy at times!”
Mullins continues to Lord it at Punchestown
It really has been a dream week for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend. The Grade 1 races just keep coming for Ireland’s respective champion trainer and jockey as Blue Lord got up in the shadows of the post to deny Couer Sublime in the Barberstown Castle Novice Chase.
Having earlier combined with Klassical Dream in the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle, Mullins and Townend were celebrating again as the 2/1 favourite claimed his second Grade 1 of the campaign after winning the Irish Arkle at Leopardstown back in February.
“I was concentrating more on the horse in front, Saint Sam, and how he was jumping,” admitted Mullins. “He was fiddling a few of the fences. I was wondering was there enough pace in front then for Blue Lord and Haut En Couleurs as well.
“They quickened at the fourth-last. I thought Saint Sam was running a cracker until he genuflected at the second-last. Then I couldn’t believe how much Paul pulled out of our fellow because I thought Coueur Sublime had stolen the race between the last two.
“But Paul said to me he didn’t want to appear in front too soon ‘cos I think in Leopardstown when he appeared in front, he looked all over the place and indeed he did that again today. Once he gets in front, he just thinks the race is over and he loses concentration, so Paul just timed it perfectly. He timed it beautifully.”
The winning rider was once again beaming afterwards.
“He was actually quite keen early on which was surprising but it was a good sign I suppose,” said Townend. “He was enjoying. Every time he saw a fence he flicked his ears and attacked it.
“I was just trying to delay my challenge a little bit down the straight because he doesn’t kill himself when he hits the front.
“He came down out of the air today. The day he won in Leopardstown, he got an awful fright at one of the early fences, and he just seemed to jump up in the air after that. He loved and attacked his fences there and you couldn’t be happier with him.
“There’s a lot of fences around here. They’re big, solid fences but they’re very inviting and you can make so much ground when you’re jumping as well as this lad does.”
There was British success on Day 3 as Lilith and Rex Dingle justified the faith of trainer Anthony Honeyball in the Close Brothers Irish EBF Mares Handicap Chase.
The Newbury winner seems to be a mare on an upward curve and Honeyball’s decision to roll the dice in Punchestown proved fruitful.
Racing Heavyweight Honeysuckle ready to wow packed Punchestown grandstands
On the eve of Katie Taylor putting her unbeaten record on the line in the boxing ring, jump racing’s heavyweight Honeysuckle is back in Town for the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle and has an unbeaten record of her own to extend.
In a career that began in a point-to-point at Dromahane on 22nd April 2018, Honeysuckle has refused to let any of the 131 rivals she has met since beat her to the winning post. On Friday, 29th April, 2022, she will look to make it 17 consecutive victories, which already include last year’s renewal of the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle and two versions of the Cheltenham equivalent.
The Henry de Bromhead-trained, Kenny Alexander-owned and Rachael Blackmore-ridden superstar heads the seven entries confirmed this morning at the latest forfeit stage and her trainer gave an upbeat bulletin on his stable star.
“Honeysuckle is in mighty form since Cheltenham,” said the trainer. “She seems really well. She had to battle to win at Punchestown race last year but they went some pace in it and I think she did what she had to do and was good on the day.
“I think it’s fair comment to say she only does what she needs to in order to win her races and that probably has helped her keep reproducing so consistently throughout her career.
“It’s a privilege for all of us to be associated with her. She has been incredible since being bought by Peter Molony and Kenny Alexander at Punchestown and we can’t wait to go again on Saturday.”
Honeysuckle’s potential rivals on Friday include the Nicky Henderson-trained Epatante, a winner of the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2020, who was successful in the Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle this month.
Fellow English trainer David Pipe, saddles Adagio, while the field is completed by the Gordon Elliott-trained Teahupoo and Willie Mullins’ pair, Echoes In Rain and Saint Roi.
The penultimate day of the season also includes the Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle in which Three Stripe Life will look to follow up his Aintree success with another Grade 1 triumph for Gordon Elliott.
He faces stiff opposition from the Willie Mullins camp however, most likely in the form of County Hurdle winner State Man and Supreme Novices’ Hurdle third-placed Kilcruit. Sir Gerhard and Dysart Dynamo have also been left in the race by the champion trainer, as have Minella Crooner and Hollow Games by Elliott but all four are declared to run earlier in the week.
Pat Doyle does have a very interesting contender in Flame Bearer, who has bagged two Grade 2 prizes since shedding his maiden status in a progressive campaign. In all, there are 18 left after the forfeit stage.
OMC Claims Join Punchestown Festival Sponsorship Panel
Tuesday 19th April 2022 – Ireland’s leading commercial and domestic insurance loss assessors OMC Claims have joined the sponsorship ranks at Punchestown, the home of Irish jump racing
With less than a week to the highly anticipated return of the Punchestown Festival, the racecourse today welcomed the Killorglin headquartered assessors as sponsors of the €100,000 OMC Claims Handicap Chase on Wednesday 27th April.
Whilst last year’s race winner Foxy Jacks hailed from Mouse Morris’s Tipperary base, the two-mile five furlong contest has proven a happy hunting ground for British trained raiders with Nicky Henderson, Colin Tizzard and Rebecca Curtis all taking the trophy back across the Irish sea. The generous prize pot always insures a highly competitive field.
Glenn Owens, OMC Claims Director of Operations looked ahead to the event: “We are delighted to be part of the return of the Punchestown Festival. It is a great social and sporting occasion, and we are excited to be part of such a unique and memorable event. It is an exciting time at Owens McCarthy as we transition towards our new OMC Claims branding. As the foremost insurance assessors in the market this partnership with Ireland’s premier racing festival is a perfect fit.”
Welcoming the OMC Claims team to the Punchestown stable Janet Creighton, Punchestown Sponsorship Manager said: “We are so looking forward to working with the OMC Claims team and thank them for their support of our Great Comeback festival. Like ourselves OMC Claims customers range from households and small businesses to major corporations and statutory bodies. Every client receives the same excellent focus on customer service and best outcomes”.
The Punchestown Festival takes place from Tuesday 26th to Saturday 30th April. For full event information and bookings please visit www.punchestown.com
Star Quality at Punchestown as Hollywoodbets Announce Sponsorship
On Monday 17th January 2022 Punchestown racecourse will welcome leading South African sports betting operator Hollywoodbets to the sponsorship line up at the home of Irish jump racing.
The arrangement will see Punchestown partner with Hollywoodbets in a ten race sponsorship split between two fixtures on 17th January and 13th February 2022.
Since 2020, the Hollywoodbets brand has expanded its involvement in Irish horseracing with sponsor partnerships at Dundalk, Tramore and the Curragh racecourses.
In addition to the five Hollywoodbets races on Monday 13th January, Punchestown will host the Hollywoodbets Grand National Trial which will headline the race meeting on 13th February 2022.
The Irish national winner General Principle, last year’s race winner The Big Dog and the gutsy Cullentra House-trained Roaring Bull are amongst the many names to have run in this prestigious race. A future grand national winner could well emerge from what could be a true stamina battle amongst some of the top staying chasers in Ireland.
Aside from the equine stars battling it out on the track, there will also be a number of celebrity riders participating. These include the likes of BBC World Sports Star of the Year and history maker Rachael Blackmore, along with household names such as Davy Russell, Jack Kennedy, Mark Walsh and Irish champion jockey Paul Townend.
Like Ireland, Hollywoodbets is steeped in its own horseracing history. The business started as a publishing company called Winning Form, which commenced printing racecards more than three decades ago.
With roots in South Africa, Hollywoodbets has grown a proud international footprint in the UK and Ireland and sponsor a range of racecourses, trainers and jockeys, both in their homeland and in the UK and Ireland.
The leading brand races over 100 horses under the banner of the Hollywood Syndicate in South Africa and proudly recently celebrated a milestone of their 250th winner at the Hollywoodbets Greyville racecourse in Durban.
“Horseracing is close to Hollywoodbets’ heart. The Hollywoodbets family looks forward to a fantastic event in association with Punchestown Racecourse and hope to see you all there for what is sure to be a day to remembered,” said Andrew Halligan, Hollywoodbets Business and Development Manager for Ireland.
“It’s a pleasure to welcome Hollywoodbets to the Punchestown stage. We pride ourselves on treating sponsors as partners who become part of the fabric of the place. We look forward to working with the team and assisting in any way we can as they continue to develop the UK and Ireland side of their business”, Conor O’Neill Punchestown CEO.
Visit Hollywoodbets Ireland and UK for all their latest odds and promotions including the exciting Road to Cheltenham Promotion.
Punchestown, Galway, Navan, Cork, Fairyhouse, Leopardstown and Tipperary
Punchestown along with Galway, Cork and Horse Racing Ireland’s (HRI) racecourse division racecourses today announced a partnership with Rewards4Racing to offer a dedicated loyalty programme for Irish racegoers – Rewards4Racing.ie
Now in its eleventh year and with over a million members, Rewards4Racing, the award-winning rewards programme for racegoers in the UK, has proved to be a significant resource in helping its UK racecourse partners attract new racegoers as well as retaining and rewarding existing fans of the sport. In 2019, before the pandemic hit, 960,000 tickets to the races were bought by its members, making up almost one fifth of all attendances at English racetracks.
Rewards4Racing Ireland members will be able to join the programme and collect points initially with Punchestown, Cork, Fairyhouse, Galway, Leopardstown, Navan and Tipperary when they buy general admission tickets or when they engage with the racecourses through their online and on-course promotions. Several other Irish racecourses will be added in the coming months, with the ultimate ambition of having all Irish racecourses onboard with the Rewards4Racing programme. Furthermore, like the UK version of the programme, members of Rewards4Racing Ireland will be able to boost their balances by collecting points every time they shop with thousands of brands or place a bet with Rewards4Racing’s exclusive betting partners. Members can then spend those valuable points to save money on their next racecourse admission ticket or to win some amazing prizes.
In addition, Rewards4Racing’s 1.2 million UK members will also be able to use their points to go racing in Ireland and attend major festivals including the Punchestown, Galway and Dublin racing festivals.
Conor O’Neill, Punchestown CEO said: “People make Punchestown and recent times have proven that more than ever. We really look forward to engaging with even more people as we join forces with Rewards4Racing. We are all systems go for the 2022 Punchestown Festival and it is essential that we recognise and reward regular racegoers, those who book early and attract new customers to the home of Irish jump racing. This initiative is an ideal fit and we really look forward to welcoming Rewards4Racing customers to Punchestown soon.”
Paul Dermody, CEO of HRI Racecourses, said: “On behalf of HRI racecourses, I am delighted to launch this partnership with Rewards4Racing today and we look forward to many other Irish racecourses joining the rewards programme in the coming months. I have been impressed for some time with their track record in assisting UK racecourses to drive higher attendances, better engagement and rewarding loyal racegoers. I am confident we can replicate this formula at Irish racecourses and further enhance the experience of racing in Ireland.
“I love the fact that members of the Rewards4Racing programme can generate points with any one of thousands of national and international brand purchases, yet they can only redeem those points against tickets for racing. That has to be attractive to our own racegoers in Ireland and indeed the 1.2 million Rewards4Racing members in the UK, many of whom travel regularly to our marquee Irish racing festivals already.”
Michael Moloney, CEO Galway Racecourse said: “This is great news for Irish racing with Galway Racecourse delighted to be part of the initial roll out here in Ireland, with the ultimate aim of having all other Irish racecourses on-board shortly. We are hugely passionate about growing our sport, the fan experience here in Galway, driving value for our customers and rewarding them, so this initiative aligns perfectly with our own ambitions. We look forward to some cracking racing and welcoming Rewards4Racing customers to Galway in 2022.”
Rewards4Racing Director and Co-Founder, Josh Apiafi, said: “Since we launched the Rewards4Racing programme in 2011, our mission has been to reward passionate racegoers by working with, and supporting, our racecourse partners, especially when times are tough. So, in conjunction with HRI’s racecourse division, we’re thrilled to be launching the programme with a dedicated platform for Irish racing fans on Rewards4Racing.ie. Together with the teams at HRI, Galway and Punchestown, we have worked tirelessly to bring this important partnership to launch. In 2018, HRI announced a growth strategy for Irish racing and one of the elements of this was an industry-leading rewards and loyalty programme for Irish racegoers. I’m delighted that we were successful through the tender process to be the programme of choice and we can’t wait to get underway.”
NOTES TO EDITOR
Rewards4Racing is British and Irish racing’s award-winning rewards programme dedicated to racing fans and those who love a great day out at the races. The programme is free to join, and members can collect points for doing the things they already do as a racing fan, whether that’s buying tickets to the races or engaging with our racecourse and racing partners on their websites or on social media. Members can also collect points every time they place a bet with Rewards4Racing’s exclusive betting partners as well as through their everyday shopping with brands they already use and love.
Points can then be used to win amazing racing experiences or make great savings on race day tickets, race day packages and hospitality at over 1,000 race meetings each year including the Cheltenham Festival, the Randox Health Grand National, the Cazoo Derby, the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival, the Cazoo St Leger Festival, the All-Weather Championships and now some of the most iconic race meetings in Ireland such as the Dublin Racing Festival, the Punchestown Festival, the Galway Races Summer Festival, Longines Irish Champions Weekend and the BoyleSports Irish Grand National.
Since its launch in 2011, Rewards4Racing’s membership has grown rapidly and now stands at over 1.2 million members.
Further information can be found at www.rewards4racing.ie
Paddy Power announced as Punchestown Champion Hurdle Sponsor
Punchestown Racecourse, the home of Irish jump racing, are today (23/02/2021) delighted to announce Paddy Power as the new sponsor of the Champion Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival as part of a three year deal.
The Paddy Power Champion Hurdle will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of the 2021 Punchestown Festival that takes place from Tuesday 27th April to Saturday 1st May. The jump season grand finale will potentially host many of the 23 Irish-trained winners from last week’s record-breaking Cheltenham Festival.
Through this new sponsorship deal of the €250,000 Paddy Power Champion Hurdle, Paddy Power further extends their unique and instantly recognisable stamp across flagship racing fixtures. In typical Paddy Power style, the bookmaker is committed to making the Punchestown experience even greater in the future.
Paddy Power, spokesman of Paddy Power bookmakers said: “We are happier than Honeysuckle and giddier than Sir Gerhard to once again sponsor at the Punchestown Festival with the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle. It gets our juices going to be part of such a competitive festival, especially now in this new golden age of Irish jumps racing. We’ll plan to make it extra special for race fans too once we’re all back at the famous Co Kildare track.”
Honeysuckle, who could bid to join household names such as Buveur D’air, Faugheen, Hurricane Fly, Brave Inca, Hardy Eustace and of course Istabraq by winning the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle, kicked off a week to remember for trainer Henry de Bromhead and jockey Rachael Blackmore at Cheltenham last Tuesday and it would certainly be a fitting chapter to close her remarkable season if she were to line up at Punchestown next month.
Despite yet to run at Punchestown, it was as the dust was settling on Day 3 of the 2018 Punchestown Festival where the Honeysuckle dream began for her current connections. Honeysuckle was purchased by owner Kenny Alexander at the Goffs Sale which took place after racing that day and now she could be in line to run at the meeting for the first time and aim for a Cheltenham-Punchestown Champion Hurdle double.
“Honeysuckle certainly appears to be going from strength to strength and was brilliant in Cheltenham so it would be great to be able to go to Punchestown for the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle all being well,” trainer Henry de Brohmead said on Tuesday.
“I spoke to Peter Molony (owner representative) over the weekend and without saying for sure, we’d certainly be leaning towards Punchestown if we get the right signals between now and then.”
Just a week on from her finest achievement to date, Honeysuckle has been earning some well deserved downtime the trainer reported.
“She seems good, really well and we’re delighted with her. We’ll just let her settle back in and just start tipping away with her again. We’ll just have to see and get a feel for her over the coming weeks and she’ll tell us how she is. Each horse is different and there’s no set routine after a race, we’ll let her tell us. She is having a well-earned rest and we’ll pick things up again when she is ready.
“We also have Aspire Tower who will be aimed at the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle. He ran a blinder at Cheltenham to be fourth. We were delighted with him. He is only five but has made the transition from juvenile to open company very well and he will be aimed at Punchestown as well.”
Rachael Blackmore has made a habit of creating history in recent seasons and did so again at Cheltenham by claiming the Ruby Walsh Leading Jockey Award with six victories and her first in the Paddy Power Punchestown Champion Hurdle on the penultimate day of the Irish jump season would be a fine way to cap the campaign.
It was at Punchestown where Blackmore was crowned champion conditional jockey in Ireland 2017 and speaking this morning she commented: “Punchestown is always a fantastic festival to ride at and hopefully Henry’s team of horses can be in similar form to Cheltenham. We all very much looking forward to races like the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle.”
Ruby Walsh, who can boast six renewals of the Punchestown Champion Hurdle to his name, is already excited by the potential stories the 2021 Punchestown Festival will create.
“When Punchestown comes around you hope for some Cheltenham Festival rematches or even new clashes,” Walsh said. “And with so many strong Irish winners in March, added to a lot of placed horses and a slightly different program, we could be treated to a real spectacle in County Kildare.
“There are no championship or novice chase middle distance Grade 1s so who knows what will go where and the potential of a flat, fast two-mile hurdle track for Honeysuckle to contend with, I am sure the speedsters will fancy another go and I can’t wait to watch it.”
Entries for the 2021 Paddy Power Champion Hurdle along with 11 additional Grade 1 races will be available from Monday 12th April.