Punchestown Look to The Future as Exciting Track Development Plans Are Unveiled
With just days to the launch of the 2019 Punchestown Festival the racecourse today announced exciting plans for a major track development project.
This development will see the 2018 Racecourse of the Year widen the finishing straight by ca. 35 metres, extend a 650 metre chute at the Blackhills (turn out of the back straight) into recently acquired land and expand water storage facilities in both areas. A number of additional upgrade works will also complete this overall track development strategic plan including extending the tarmac ambulance road, the introduction of a new sand canter to the two mile start location and a full review of the irrigation system at the racecourse.
The widening of the main straight will mean Punchestown will host all race meetings on the outer track rather than use the “inside” straight which is currently availed of at mid-winter race fixtures in an effort to minimise the use of the Festival ground in advance of the April flagship meeting. The widening exercise will facilitate the extension of the ambulance road around the entire circuit and will provide an opportunity to expand the capacity of the reservoir in front of the main straight. Importantly, the plan will secure and future proof water sources, providing an approximate ten-fold increase over the current water storage capacity at the venue. Coupled with this, the track also plans to review and invest in a long term irrigation system.
The 650 metre extension of the course at the Blackhills bend will facilitate a wider range of race distances and start locations on the existing layout, add flexibility and open many long term opportunities for the further enhancement of the racing schedule at the famous Kildare venue.
Throughout the past twenty years, the development and enhancement of the racing surface has been central to the long term strategy adopted by the board of directors. The track has transformed during that time with the addition of over 100 acres of ground being gradually introduced as additional racing surface in a seamless manner. This has allowed Punchestown to safeguard its fixtures, provide fresh ground at all meetings and ensure ideal ground conditions for the jump season grand finale each April.
An application for planning permission will be lodged shortly and if planning is granted it is proposed that construction will commence after the 2020 Punchestown Festival.
David Mongey, Chairman at Punchestown racecourse, who has been integral to the project, explained the vision behind the plan “Central to all strategic plans at Punchestown has been the track and our ability to deliver top quality racing ground throughout the season with particular focus on the annual festival. Without a top level racing surface we do not attract the best horses and that is integral to the continued success of Punchestown. The plan will sustain growth and opportunity and that is the anchor of any successful business”.
Punchestown CEO Conor O’Neill elaborated on the necessity of the project “Punchestown is more than just a racecourse. It is an enterprise that creates and sustains employment, the festival generates around €60 million for the local economy but very importantly it is also an amenity for the people of the area. Everything stems back to the success of the venue as a racecourse and from this community, charity and commercial events are grown. The future viability of the racecourse will be safeguarded with the implementation of this development and now is the time to make it happen”.
Twelve times champion jump jockey Ruby Walsh endorsed the planned developments “Think of Punchestown and you think of Kildare. It is an iconic venue that the people of the county should be proud of. Endorsing Punchestown has always been easy for me. Granted it is my local track and I have such fond memories of the place but sentiment aside it is simply a top class racecourse. Current, future and past champions run and graduate throughout the season there. It has hosted some of the most competitive, high quality racing I have experienced. The list of winners at Punchestown through the years is testament to the place so any plans to enhance that have to be embraced.”
The 2019 Punchestown festival gets underway on Tuesday 30th April and runs to Saturday 4th May. For full event information please visit www.punchestown.com