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.