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.
The 2023 Punchestown Kidney Research Fund Rider Line Up
The 32nd running of the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund Charity Race takes place at 6.40 pm on Saturday 29th April at the Punchestown Festival. To date, this race has raised over €1.7 million for kidney projects.
From an initial 71 applicants the final list of 25 lucky Jockeys for the “Have the conversation – Say YES to Organ Donation” PKRF Charity Race was released today. The 25th and final Jockey to make the cut was Hannah Smullen – and she is sure to draw a huge following. Hannah is the daughter of the late Pat Smullen and will appropriately ride for the Dermot Weld stable. The 20-year-old from county Offaly is studying Law at Trinity College and said she was so excited about having her first race at the Punchestown Festival.
The 2023 Punchestown Kidney Research Fund Rider Line Up
In no particular order:
- MARGARET KILROY – Representing county Westmeath. Director of sales at Nordics UK and IRE.
- DEAN RYAN – High performance coach. Took part in Corinthian Challenge.
- RAYMOND LOFTUS – Rides out in Gordon Elliotts mad keen to have his first ride on racecourse and has a huge gang of supporters coming to watch.
- EDDIE TOBIN – Carlow’s Eddie Tobin ensures Jessica Harrington’s record of having a runner in the “Kidney” Race every year since Jessy rode Banker’s Benefit for John Fowler in the first running of this Charity Race back in 1990..
- TRIONA BURBAGE – County Laois part of the Jarlath Fahy racing team. Always involved in horses. A dream come true to ride at Punchestown
- KEITH HEDDERMAN – Keith Hedderman complete the Kildare quota and the latter has won Senior County Football championship medals with Moorefield and is from the well- known Newbridge Meats, which is a local family business.
- KAITE MCMANMON – works in the RACE academy and has access to some top training skills!
- ALFONSO VIDAL – representing Brazil! Works for trainer Oliver McKiernan. Won rally cross motor races in his native Brazil.
- PAUL DEMPSEY – Three day event rider, took part in 2016 and has been training in Gavin Cromwells.
- EIMEAR SMULLEN – Kilcullen local and one of two sisters taking part has been riding out in Denis Cullen’s yard.
- SINEAD SMULLEN – hair stylist to the stars, well Kildare ones at least! Trains with Denis Cullen
- JOHN MOLLOY – Runs the busy Molloy & Sherry Transport company but is really excited about being a jockey for a day
- FIONA AHERN – From the sunny south east in County Wexford and looking forward to the experience.
- JAMIE KAVANAGH – Another from the point to point stronghold county of Wexford.
- CIAN FENELON – Wicklow man. Was at Ptown in 2022 washed out of it didn’t affect him as he blown away by charity race and applied the day after. Studying law and criminology
- KATE MACKLIN – flying in from Italy to take part.
- PAUL BELL – Kilcullen local and Double Championship winning GAA football star Paul Bell who is back after enjoying the experience in 2022 with huge help from Gordon Elliott.
- RONAN WILSON – represents Wicklow and his own well known food business Dun Luain Foods
- AOIFE MARTHA KIERNAN – County Meath trained as a nurse, rides out in Noel Meades. Inspired by patients she met in Tallaght Hospital
- MICHAEL PURCELL – Aunctioneer from Dublin rides out in Durkans. Doing it for a best friend Karl who is on the list for a transplant.
- ELAINE BROWNE – Galway woman. Agri Consultant. Ran half and full marathons and 70 k iron woman in denmark. Fittness shouldnt be a problem.
- MAURICE MCCARTHY – From Fylde in Lancs UK. Rode in 2016.Previous winner of Newmarket Town Plate. Family and friends travelling from UK To support.
- KILLIAN RYAN – Thurles man. 23 year old accounts manager CS Pharma. Making his racecourse debut.
- JOY BENNETT – From Malahide in Dublin. Daughter of Dave Bennett who received a kidney transplant a year ago to the day of the charity race.
- HANNAH SMULLEN – 20 year old student from county offaly is studying in Trinity college. Hannah is the daughter of former trainer and amateur jockey Frances Smullen and the much loved and missed Pat Smullen.
Ultimately the message from James Nolan, Chairman of The Punchestown Kidney Research Fund is to please have the conversation about Organ Donation with your family and loved ones.
Please don’t take your Organs to Heaven – as Heaven knows we need them here on Earth……
For more information please contact James Nolan at 086/2349919 or visit www.pkrf.ie
Osprey Hotel is the place to be before and after the races once again for 2023 and is bigger and better than ever, this year the 4-star hotel in Naas has lined up another fantastic week of entertainment to coincide with the Punchestown Festival 2023.
As a sponsor of Punchestown with the growing Osprey Avenue shopping village at the festival, this year the hotel is pulling out all the stops to make 2023 the best one yet.
A complimentary shuttle bus will be running regularly each day from the hotel to the festival before and after the races.
A new addition this year is the star studded Punchestown Preview from 12 – 2pm on Tuesday 25th April in partnership with the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund in the refurbished Osprey Ballroom, a great way to start the week hearing from RTE broadcasters, racing pundits and jockeys. Enjoy some delicious carvery options, while enjoying a pint and soaking up the atmosphere for the start of the festival, before you head for the track for an amazing day of racing.
After hopefully a successful day at the races, there is plenty of reason to return to the Osprey Hotel afterwards and soak up the atmosphere and witness the great entertainment on offer.
Live entertainment will be on each evening in the Osprey Bar, grab a drink and absorb everything the hotel has to offer. New for 2023 is the addition of our SilverStream food truck in our courtyard with a post race BBQ on Thursday 27th April.
On Friday night the Osprey Hotel hosts the Ultimate Festival Finale to a packed house, our DJ’s will entertain in the lobby, restaurant and bar while the ticketed ‘ULTIMATE FESTIVAL FINALE’ event takes place in the ballroom featuring for 2023, none other than ‘SPRINGBREAK’ and includes full access to our courtyard stretch tent, food truck and outdoor bars.
Michael Boyle, General Manager is eagerly awaiting the arrival of this years festival:
“We are delighted to continue our sponsorship with Punchestown Festival for 2023. Even more so this year as it’s such an exciting time at the hotel at the moment with so many positive things happening within the team and hotel property. We were delighted to complete the refurbishment of our public areas with the full refurb of our bedrooms due to commence in the coming months. We recently celebrated being awarded ‘Great Place to Work’ accreditation along with receiving Silver status through our sustainability endeavors with Green Tourism. The team enjoy the week so much, welcoming back our regular racing guests and the general buzz and atmosphere makes it the most anticipated week of the year at Osprey and we can’t wait”.
For full details visit www.ospreyhotel.ie or follow on their social media platforms.
PKRF Record Breaking Year for Fundraising
‘The Punchestown Kidney Research Fund Charity Race is the most important race of the festival because it is the race the makes a massive difference to many lives’.
- 2022 was a record-breaking year for the PKRF with a total of €115,502.29 raised.
- Participants in the Punchestown Charity Race raised €93,576.55 which is in itself a record in 31 years of the event.
- Leinster and Ireland rugby player James Tracy raised an additional €21,925.74 with the February Freezebury Challenge.
- This put the total raised at a phenomenal €1,702,677.29.
As a result of these funds the PKRF has managed to support the following projects this year:
- A Pilot Peer Support programme for all kidney patients in Ireland. This program will offer vital counselling and associated supports to kidney patients and their families who are dealing with all the various issues and concerns that unfortunately is all part of being a dialysis or transplant patient.
- Established the James Tracy/Kidney Beam Exercise programme 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.
- Continued research into Polycystic Kidney Disease in partnership with the Irish Nephrology Society under the guidance of the Irish Research Council.
- Continued our support for our Art Therapy programmes for Dialysis Patients in Tallaght & Waterford Dialysis Units.
- Continued our support for our Sports Program for Dialysis & Transplant Patients.
- Organised a trip to Lourdes for one young Dialysis patient and a carer.
James Nolan, Chairman of the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund reflected on a momentous year: “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 during the Punchestown Festival. Great credit is due to all the team at Punchestown who make our race day so special, as well as all the staff at I.H.R.B who so generously volunteer their services on the day and also the staff at H.R.I. & R.A.C.E. who ensure everything is run correctly.
We are very grateful to all the owners and the trainers who have given continued support over 31 years by allowing horses to run. We would like to acknowledge the various forms of media, whose coverage of the PKRF 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”.
Punchestown Pledge to Irish Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal
Press Release Wednesday 13th April 2022 – Punchestown racecourse, in association with the Irish Red Cross, have pledged to donate all proceeds from tickets purchased over this Easter weekend for Ballymore Family Day, Saturday 30th April, to the Irish Red Cross Ukraine crisis appeal.
Red Cross teams are on the ground in Ukraine and surrounding region as well as here in Ireland providing crucial aid for Ukrainian refugees. Your support will enable the Red Cross to continue their work to provide for basic needs such as water, food, medical aid, shelter and other essential needs.
Punchestown racecourse have pledged that all proceeds from tickets purchased for Ballymore Family day between Friday 15th and Monday 18th April will go directly to the Ukraine Crisis Appeal. The Ballymore Family day is the final day of the festival and takes place on Saturday 30th April.
Conor O’Neill, Punchestown CEO said “We are all united in our horror at what is happening in Ukraine. Families and loved ones are being displaced and the consequences of this war are devastating. In addition to our Easter weekend fundraiser, we will be rolling out some additional activities to raise funds in the coming days and weeks. If everyone gives a little it will help a lot.”
Charlie Lamson, Head of Fundraising Irish Red Cross said: “The situation in Ukraine is accelerating and the need for funds to support teams on the ground has never been more crucial. Awareness and action like this Easter weekend appeal by Punchestown will all go towards supporting families that have been torn apart by this conflict. Please support by donating at www.donate.redcross.ie or by purchasing Punchestown tickets for Saturday 30th April on www.punchestown.com”
The Ballymore Family Day is the concluding day of the Punchestown Festival and takes place on Saturday 30th April. The Saturday has become the most popular day at the festival with crowds of over 35,000 expected to attend. A dedicated family activity area means that there is ample room for families and socialisers to enjoy the various aspects of the race day in comfort. By purchasing tickets for and attending Punchestown on Saturday 30th you and your family and friends can make a big difference to those not as fortunate.
The Punchestown Festival gets underway on Tuesday 26th April and runs through to Saturday 30th April. All proceeds for festival Saturday tickets purchased between Friday 15th and Monday 18th April go to the Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal.
Visit https://punchestown.com/book-tickets/festival-tickets/ or donate directly www.donate.redcross.ie
Punchestown Gift The Festival Curtain Raiser to Long-Time Charity Partner PKRF
Festival racing at Punchestown will pick up where it left off with today’s announcement that the first race of this year’s festival has been gifted to the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund.
Traditionally, the final race of the Punchestown Festival has been the extremely popular PKRF charity sweepstakes, a concept that gives people the opportunity to experience the thrill of race riding whilst raising funds. In a bid to adapt and continue the tradition the newly introduced, Have The Conversation Say Yes to Organ Donation Novice Handicap Hurdle, will help raise much needed awareness until the charity race can hopefully resume in its traditional format. An incredible €1,570,000 has been raised to date and the fund has supported many initiatives including the landmark project – the state of the art renal unit in Temple Street Children’s Hospital, contributed to the refurbishment of the dialysis unit at Sligo General Hospital, continuous research programmes and sponsored trips to Takers Ski Camps for younger kidney patients.
PKRF founder, transplant recipient and 2002 Punchestown charity race winner James Nolan outlined the objectives for this years campaign: “There are two important reasons for our charity to be part of Punchestown Festival. The first is to raise funds to support all our different projects, the second is to promote organ donor awareness. There were an incredible 123 kidney transplants carried out during a very difficult and challenging 2020. However, there are over 600 people on the list for a lifesaving kidney transplants so we would ask people to have the conversation at home about organ donation. It is much easier for everyone if your family know your wishes. Anyone can free text the word DONOR to 50050 and either click on the link to receive an Organ Donor Card by post or download a digital organ donor card”.
Conor O’Neill, Punchestown CEO said “Since we started planning this unique running of the Punchestown Festival as far back as last summer we had committed to a charity element. James Nolan and the Punchestown Charity Race are part of the fabric of the place. Not only is the charity race a wonderful way to conclude the festival every year but it is also fair to say it is the most important race of the week as it makes such a difference to so many people’s lives. We feel it’s more important now than ever to send a message of solidarity and support and we hope that the race continues to make a difference by prompting people to have the conversation about organ donation”.
Action at this year’s Punchestown Festival will get under way at 3.40pm on Tuesday 28th April with The Have the Conversation Say Yes to Organ Donation Novice Handicap Hurdle. Full live coverage available on RTE2 and RacingTV each day of the festival. Follow Punchestown’s social media channels for the latest news and behind the scenes action. Free text the word DONOR to 50050 to receive an organ donor card.
The Punchestown Kidney Research Fund Projects
The PKRF is a registered Irish Charity (CHY 16613) which has raised €1,570,685 to date and supported a wide number of projects over the past number of years including:
- financially supporting a brand new state of the art Renal Unit in Temple Street Children’s Hospital.
- supported Beaumont Hospital to have a Home Haemo Dialysis Training Unit within the hospital.
- 10 years support to the Art Therapy programmes for Dialysis Patients in Tallaght & Waterford Dialysis Units.
- Helped refurbish the Dialysis Unit at Sligo General Hospital.
- Sponsored numerous dialysis & transplant patients to represent Ireland at World and European Transplant Games
- Continually supported various kidney related research projects, which have varied from sponsoring a Newman Scholar in U.C.D. to study kidney transplantation, to a skin cancer research programme for transplant recipients under Gillian Murphy in Beaumont Hospital as well as supportingresearch projects under the guidance of the Irish Research Council. The most recent projects helped Caragh Singleton to study the benefits of Vitamin D in the transplant population as well as helping Katie Benson to map Polycystic Kidney Disease in Ireland.
- Sponsored trips to Lourdes for dialysis patients and sponsored trips to Tackers Kids Ski Camps especially for the younger kidney patients.
- Sponsored specialised dietary recipe books for dialysis patients as well as promoting the “Opt for Life” logo on to the football jerseys of different teams.
- Researching and investigating the possibility of a new satellite dialysis unit in County Kildare
Free text the word DONOR to 50050 to receive an organ donor card.