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Entries for Day 1 Winter Festival 

Entries for Day 2 Winter Festival 

 

 

 

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.

**ENDS**

For further information please contact:

Shona Dreaper,
Punchestown Marketing and Communications Manager
Phone: +353 (0) 45 897704 or email info@punchestown.com

 

 

 

 

Energumene and Chacun Pour Soi go head-to-head once more in William Hill Champion Chase

Sir Gerhard and Bob Olinger also feature on day one of the Punchestown Festival 

The five-day Punchestown Festival will begin with a feature race to savour as stable companions Energumene and Chacun Pour Soi lock horns in the Grade 1 William Hill Champion Chase.
Declarations for the opening day of Irish jump racing’s biggest fixture were made this morning and will see Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Energumene try to fend off his six-time Grade 1 winning neighbour Chacun Pour Soi in a race that has attracted five runners.

Opposition to the two Willie Mullins runners at the head of the field will be eyeing an upset and Henry de Bromhead saddles the five-time Grade 1 winner Envoi Allen and the course and distance winner Captain Guinness, while Gordon Elliott is represented by the Cheltenham Festival runner-up Andy Dufresne.

Speaking this morning, de Bromhead declared that he was looking forward to the challenge at the start of another important week for the Waterford trainer.

“We were delighted with Envoi Allen in Cheltenham,” de Bromhead said on Sunday morning. “He jumped really well, travelled well. His wind just isn’t as good now as it was so I’d say the ground just caught him out. We’re hoping the better ground will suit him. He’s in super form.

“He is so classy, I think any trip would nearly suit him to be fair. He’s got such a high cruising speed, and he showed that at Cheltenham that jumping and travelling at that pace isn’t a problem. We’re really happy with him.”
Captain Guinness will also take his chance on Tuesday and de Bromhead added: “The extra half mile in Aintree caught him out so we’ll go back to two miles with him. We’re happy to go again to Punchestown. It’s always a chance but he seems in good form so we’re happy to give it a lash and see. There is great prize money on offer, as is the case throughout the week.”
Speaking about the William Hill Champion Chase when looking ahead to the Punchestown Festival, Patrick Mullins, who will renew his association with Chacun Pour Soi said: “He walked into the third fence (in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham) and then got back jumping. While watching the race you would say I was going well, and I probably was, I wasn’t surprised that he put down. I just didn’t feel that he was giving me the feel that I was expecting him to.

“I don’t feel he was on his ‘A game’ on the day. I’m just disappointed as he shouldn’t be making mistakes like that. It wasn’t the Chacun Pour Soi we know but look, I thought the William Hill Champion Chase at Punchestown was one of the races of the season last year. I thought Paul was excellent on him the way he bounced him out and that was a huge performance the way he got Allaho out of his comfort zone completely.

“He is 10 now and Energumene is in his prime at eight, so it’s probably going to be difficult for Chacun Pour Soi but I’d be expecting him to be much more like his old self next week and perhaps he might just be a better ground horse. It’ll be a fantastic race and I wouldn’t rule him out.”

Reflecting on Energumene’s Cheltenham success and a first win in the Champion Chase there for the stable, Mullins added: “In reality, the Champion Chase at Cheltenham turned into a Grade 2 but Engergumene travelled through the race like the good horse he is. We’ll take it, a Champion Chase, we never had one before but we will have to take on Shiskin again and settle it once and for all.”

While success in the William Hill Champion Chase might be something of a surprise for de Bromhead, the trainer will saddle one of the brightest stars on show this week as Bob Olinger lines up in the Grade 1 Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase.

The unbeaten chaser was a 40-length winner of the Turners Novice Chase last month although that doesn’t tell the full story with Galopin Des Champs exiting at the final fence, but de Bromhead is expecting to see a more familiar performance from Bob Olinger on Tuesday.

“I think it’s a logical progression to go to three miles with Bob,” de Bromhead said. “He seems really well again. Obviously, it was great to win but he was disappointing in Cheltenham in terms of the level of his performance but it seems good now and we’re happy with him. We’ll see where we go after learning more on Tuesday.
“He definitely wasn’t right in Cheltenham. Definitely. He had this torn muscle. It wasn’t bad but it was definitely torn and it probably ties in. Rachael (Blackmore) said he made a terrible noise after he jumped the sixth-last, where he twisted in the air. So it definitely didn’t look like him.

“We were always going to go for the three-mile race at Punchestown and as we’re happy with him now that the muscle tear has cleared up, it’s all systems go.”
Millers Bank earned Grade 1 honours in the Manifesto Novices’ Chase at Aintree and is a fascinating inclusion for Oxfordshire-based trainer Alex Hales alongside Grade 1 winners in Beacon Edge for Noel Meade and the Gordon Elliott-trained Fury Road, who both wear the Gigginstown House Stud silks.
Local trainer Paul Fahey is rolling the dice at the top table with his talented mare Ballyshannon Rose and the field is completed by the Jessica Harrington-trained Lifetime Ambition, Capodanno, who is the only runner for Willie Mullins in the three-miler.

The opening Grade 1 of the Punchestown Festival is the Bective Stud Champion Novice Hurdle and Mullins is setting the scene for the week with another clash of two from his championship winning stable.
Five runners will go to post for a race that has thrown up winners such as Moscow Flyer, Brave Inca, Hurricane Fly, Faugheen, Douvan and Klassical Dream since the turn of the century and Ballymore Novice Hurdle winner Sir Gerhard will once again aim to show his versatility as he drops back to two miles to take on Dysart Dynamo, who was a faller in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Gordon Elliott’s Grade 1 winner Mighty Potter, who will be looking to put a line through his disappointing appearance at Cheltenham when pulling up in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and his stablemate Vina Ardanza also feature alongside Gatsby Grey who would be a popular winner for Oliver McKiernan if the 15-length Naas winner could upset the odds here.

 

The Great Comeback is full of great racing as entries for opening three days of Punchestown Festival are revealed

WATCH PATRICK MULLINS CHAT THROUGH CLOSUTTON CONTENDERS HERE  

The 2022 Punchestown Festival is being billed as ‘The Great Comeback’ as the grandstands are set to fill up to witness Ireland’s biggest racing meeting for the first time since 2019.
But it’s not just the public that will be packing into the famed Kildare auditorium of jump racing to reacquaint themselves with the five-day festival from Tuesday April 26th to Saturday April 30th, as equine stars such as Clan Des Obeaux, Allaho, Minella Indo, Energumene, Chacun Pour Soi, Klassical Dream and Paisley Park are just some of the household equine names also returning to Punchestown.
Today marked the forfeit stage for the opening three days of the Punchestown Festival and the Closutton clash of Willie’s Mullins’ leading two-mile chasers Energumene and Chacun Pour Soi is well and truly on in the William Hill Champion Chase, with Joseph O’Brien potentially throwing a spanner in the works with recent Aintree winner Fakir D’oudairies getting an entry although the trainer admitted a return to three miles might be on the agenda for him.
Envoi Allen and Captain Guinness may represent Henry de Bromhead, while Andy Dufresne is in the mix as well as Allaho although the latter is also more likely for Wednesday’s vintage renewal of the Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup.
Paul Nicholls is no stranger to Punchestown success and for the second year running will try to do the Aintree/Punchestown double with Clan Des Obeaux who heads the entries for the Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup alongside the winners of three Cheltenham Gold Cup’s, Al Boum Photo and Minella indo.
Nicholls said on Thursday: “I’m really looking forward to next week. We’re always made very welcome. We love it and in the future, maybe we’ll have even more to come. If we have the right ones, we’ll be there.
“It’s about running the right horses in the right races. We thought that the Ladbrokes Gold Cup would suit Clan and that’s why we’re coming back again this year. It’s gonna be a tough old race if Allaho runs and he had a harder race at Aintree than last year but it was a career best in many ways.
“But this race suits him, the track suits him and the way he ran last year shows it suits him and you’ve got to target those races for him.”
Nicholls added: “It’s a waste of time running him around Cheltenham. He hates it, as Silviniaco Conti did but you’ve got to run them in the right races, as we did bringing two horses to Punchestown last year and they both won.”
Speaking about Fakir D’oudairies, who is among the 13 in Wednesday’s feature race as well, Joseph O’Brien said options would be kept open for now.
“Fakir is an intended runner in one of the Grade 1s, probably more likely the Ladbrokes Gold Cup over three miles than the William Hill Champion Chase over two but we’re keeping our options open,” O’Brien said.
“He has been good since winning at Aintree. We decided to sidestep Cheltenham in favour of the Melling Chase and that decision paid off and I thought he did it well.
“He has come out of the race well and we’re looking forward to lining up at the Punchestown Festival now.”
On Thursday the feature event is the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle, a race Patrick Mullins commented on yesterday by saying he would be disappointed if Klassical Dream couldn’t claim back-to-back renewals. Paisley Park is a fascinating inclusion for trainer Emma Lavelle and owner Andrew Gemmell, however.
Mullins said on Wednesday: “We got the good start in Leopardstown and (at Cheltenham) Klassical started backing up backwards and Paul ended up jumping off last and we are 10 lengths behind Flooring Porter straight away so was that just the swing. I was a little bit disappointed with how weakly he finished. He travelled up there very well but I don’t think that was him at his best and I’d be disappointed if he couldn’t win next week at Punchestown.”
Among his 12 potential rivals are Cheltenham Festival winner Commander Of Fleet and Aintree victor Sire Du Berlais, both for Gordon Elliott who looks to hold his strongest hand in this championship race.
“Both horses are in good form and have come out of Cheltenham and Aintree well so we’ll hopefully let them take their chance,” Elliott said.
In the novice hurdle ranks over the opening three days, champion trainer Willie Mullins will characteristically keep his cards close to his chest for now as he is responsible for eight (Bring On The Night, Dysart Dynamo, El Fabiolo, Gibraltar, Ha D’or, Kilcruit, Sir Gerhard and State Man) of the 15 entries in the Bective Stud Champion Novice Hurdle and six (Bronn, Classic Getaway, Kilcruit, Minella Cocooner, Ramillies and The Nice Guy) of the 17 that stood their ground in Wednesday’s Irish Mirror Novice Hurdle.
Tuesday’s Dooley Insurance Champion Novice Chase features the Henry de Bromhead-trained Bob Olinger who is the standout name in a field that also features Grade 1 winner Beacon Edge for Noel Meade.
The Barberstown Castle Novice Chase on Thursday looks a very strong contest with Aintree Grade 1 winner Gentleman De Mee potentially facing off against Arkle runner-up Gabynako for Gavin Cromwell.

VIEW ENTRIES HERE

Have the conversation – say yes to organ donation”

 

PUNCHESTOWN  CHARITY RACE PILOTS PEER SUPPORT PROGRAM FOR PATIENTS.

Wednesday 20 April 2022: The 2022 Punchestown Festival will host the 31st running of the Annual Charity Race on Saturday 30th April in aid of the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund. (P.K.R.F.).

This fantastic fundraising initiative has stood the test of time and remains as popular as ever with applications oversubscribed each year. This year was particularly challenging with a much reduced preparation time but a huge effort by organisers and participants saw the plan come to fruition. The race involves 25 ‘amateur’ riders, battling it out over one mile and seven furlongs around the famous Punchestown course. Each rider must raise €1,500 for the P.K.R.F.  and pass an assessment in order to participate. 

In 2022, the PKRF is looking forward to partnering with the Irish Kidney Association to set up a Pilot Peer Support Program to help kidney patients and their families who are starting out on the road to dialysis or looking at the possibility of a life-saving kidney transplant.  This support network will enable people to reach out and connect with a trained volunteer  to discuss their concerns about dialysis and transplantation.

Kilcullen Butcher, James Nolan initiated both the charity and the race having received the GIFT OF LIFE when his sister Catherine Doyle donated one of her kidneys to him on the 25th July 1987. He has ridden in the race himself 13 times and won it on 50 to 1 shot Nero’s Dancer in 2002, an experience he describes as one of the highlights of his life.

The Punchestown Kidney Research Fund Charity Race was founded in 1990 and has raised €1.6 million to date.  They have invested these funds in projects that improve the quality of life for patients on dialysis, projects that establish ways to maximise the life span of the transplanted kidney and identify projects that examine the causes that lead to renal failure. Unfortunately, due to the Covid19 pandemic the race could not place in both 2020 and 2021. As a result, the PKRF had no major projects during this time but have supported the following projects from 2016 to 2019:

Leona Hughes, Punchestown Sponsorship coordinator explains why she is taking part in this year’s race “Whatever about challenging yourself I think this race makes you consider how lucky we are to be in a position to choose. There are plenty of people who would love to take part in something like this but unfortunately cannot due to illness. I hope we raise plenty of money for James and his team because the work they do is amazing. The atmosphere is always brilliant and we feel it is the most important race of the entire festival because it makes such a difference to so many lives”.

The Punchestown Kidney Research Fund uses the Charity Race as a major Organ Donor Awareness Event in Ireland.  Indeed the simple measure of carrying an Organ Donor Card or having the conversation about Organ Donation and informing one’s next of kin of one’s wish to donate organs can save someone’s life.

*ENDS*

For further information please contact: The Punchestown Kidney Research Fund 

C/o James Nolan – 086 2349919

Main Street, Kilcullen, co. Kildare 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Mills Will Sponsor the Punchestown Festival Stableyard Canteen 

Spin It To Win It Red Mills Activities  

Tuesday 19th April 2022 – It was announced today that Connolly’s RED MILLS will generously sponsor the Stable Staff yard canteen each day of the 2022 Punchestown Festival from Tuesday 26th to Saturday 30th April.

For over 100 years the Red Mills brand has been recognised for their nutritional expertise and the brand is now available in 80 countries across the globe. Closer to home, the five day national hunt season finale at Punchestown is a demanding schedule and Connolly’s Red Mills recognise the importance of ensuring the stable staff are well catered for. Their support will ensure that the hard working yard teams will enjoy complimentary selection of hot dishes, sandwiches, snacks, pastries, tea and coffee throughout their Festival day.   

Of course, the €75,000 RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Series Final will be the second race on Punchestown Gold Cup Day, Wednesday 27th April. Now in its fourth year this series was designed to create opportunities for horses bought for €45,000/£30,000 or less at store sales in Ireland and the UK, thereby, giving owners and trainers an opportunity to claim some of the €355,000 prize-money on offer. To enter the €75,000 final at the Punchestown festival, horses must have run in one of the thirteen qualifiers and have not won a listed race or a Grade 1, 2 or 3 race.

Gareth Connolly, CEO, Connolly’s RED MILLS; “This has been a long time coming and we’re delighted for the team at Punchestown that they’ll be welcoming back racegoers to this year’s highly anticipated Festival. This is the fourth year that Punchestown will host the €75,000 RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Series Hurdle Final but only the second time in front of a crowd and it will be great to have the crowds and connections back to savour the occasion.

 

We appreciate that these are challenging times and are committed to continuing our industry support and hope to demonstrate this further during the festival though our stable staff canteen sponsorship and yard promotions. We plan to recognise and shine a light on the skills and commitment of the stable staff, who are the backbone of the industry and work tirelessly to provide the best care for the horses that we get to enjoy watching out on the track. The festival being five days can make it a very long week for stable staff, with early starts and late finished and we’ll be working with the team at Punchestown to ensure they are well catered for in the stable yard.”

Leona Hughes, Punchestown Sponsorship Coordinator welcomed the Connolly’s Red Mill’s initiative: “To put on a show like the Punchestown Festival takes a huge team of people and we consider everyone working hard behind the scenes be it in the yard, on the track, in the tv crews or catering teams to be part of one big production crew. Festival days are long and we see the horseboxes pulling in from mid-morning having travelled a distance. We see those same horseboxes leaving well after the last race. To perform to your best you need to be nourished and hydrated and we thank Red Mill’s for stepping up and taking on the stable yard canteen sponsorship. Having provided nutrition for horses for so long it is an ideal fit that they now help nourish those who look after them.”

The much-anticipated 2022 Punchestown Festival gets underway on Tuesday 26th April and runs until Saturday 30th when the season concludes. For event information and ticket bookings please visit www.punchestown.com

 

**Ends**

 

 

Editors Notes:

In 2012, Connolly’s RED MILLS joined forces with Foran Equine, expanding their portfolio and applying their knowledge and manufacturing experience to both feed and supplement solutions.

A further demonstration of Connolly’s RED MILLS commitment to overall horse well-being and performance was the acquisition of Carr & Day & Martin, an international name in horse care solutions in 2019. With products spanning leather care, hoof care, coat care and healthcare, the Carr & Day & Martin range is renowned as the best in the market for equine care, with life-long advocates who vouch for this renowned brand.

Connolly’s RED MILLS, together with their sister brands Foran Equine and Carr Day Martin, put your horse at the centre of everything they do, with expert solutions designed to nourish, support and care for your horse.

RED MILLS together with their sister brands Foran Equine and Carr & Day & Martin will host competitions each day for the stable staff, including the return of the popular ‘Spin It To Win It’  wheel, as well as being on hand to offer any nutritional or turn out tips.

For over 100 years, Connolly’s RED MILLS has been marrying science, passion and experience to manufacture quality horse feed made from fresh natural ingredients sourced from our farms for performance horses worldwide.

Throughout the generations, our ambition and ethos is to provide the most advanced equine nutrition on a global scale. We focus on rigorous best practices for testing methods and innovation at our state-of-the-art Research and Development centre.

Connolly’s RED MILLS, together with our sister brands Foran Equine and Carr Day Martin, put your horse at the centre of everything we do.  Our expert solutions are designed to nourish, support and care for you horse.

 

Bective Stud Launch Grade 1 Action With Punchestown Festival Sponsorship

Tuesday 12th April 2022 – With only weeks until Punchestown returns with the Great Comeback Festival from Tuesday 26th to Saturday 30th April, the racecourse today announced an exciting new sponsorship as Noel and Valerie Moran’s Bective Stud take over title honours of the first grade one contest at the prestigious season grand finale.

The €125,000 Grade 1 Bective Stud Champion Novice Hurdle will take place on the opening day of the highly anticipated 2022 Punchestown Festival. The winners list for this two-mile contest, which ran under the eComm Merchant Solutions banner in 2021, features stars such as Hurricane Fly, Jezki, Faugheen and Douvan. Like so many of the Punchestown feature races, champion trainer Willie Mullins has dominated winning six of the last seven runnings. A sequence punctuated in 2016 by the J.P. McManus owned Don’t Push It ridden by Barry Geraghty and trained by Jessica Harrington.

Recently published entries for the Bective Stud contest feature Cheltenham sensation Constitution Hill, Sir Gerhard, Three Stripe Life, Aintree winner Jonbon, while County Hurdle winner State Man would be an intriguing contender.

The Moran’s purchased the 180 acre Bective Stud in 2016 and have undertaken a considered and highly detailed restoration project of the beautiful house, yard and gardens that date back to 1852. Situated on the banks of the Boyne between Trim and Navan, Bective Stud is a truly unique immersive stud experience for racing patrons and enthusiasts. Operating as a dual purpose bloodstock enterprise with both racing and breeding stock, the stud welcomes paying guests to enjoy the recently refurbished luxurious self-catering apartments, the newly opened tearooms and gardens. In addition, patrons of the tea rooms and apartments will soon enjoy the first phase of the walking trails which is due to open later this month. The vision does not end there as there are plans for a five star hotel in the pipeline. For full information please visit www.bectivestud.com

Bective Stud owners and great supporters of national hunt racing Noel and Valerie Moran commented: “We are delighted to be working with Punchestown Racecourse again this year, this time under Bective Stud, after sponsoring this race last year with eCOMM Merchant Solutions. We are passionate about National Hunt racing and we wish the team at Punchestown all the very best with this year’s Comeback Festival. This year we sponsor the Grade 1 Bective Stud Champion Novice Hurdle which is one of the main races at the Festival and we are thrilled to support one of the best festivals in the Irish racing calendar. Bective Stud is open for business with 5 Luxurious self-catering apartments in the middle of the working stud farm. We also recently opened our new tea rooms and Restaurant on the estate. Come visit our horses and Alpacas. We would be thrilled to welcome racing patrons to the estate.”

After their inaugural festival sponsorship was behind closed doors, Punchestown CEO Conor O’Neill looks forward to welcoming the Morans in person: “Noel and Valerie have been so supportive of Punchestown and indeed Irish jump racing as an industry. They stepped up last year despite the fact that due to racing behind closed doors they were unable to enjoy the ‘in-person’ benefits of being a sponsor at Punchestown. We hope this year we can more than make up for it as we host Valerie, Noel and their guests. O’Neill continued: “The level of vision, passion, attention to detail that has gone into Bective Stud is a testament to the Moran’s commitment to the project. You can see why Noel and Valerie are so successful in business when you see the project that they have delivered at Bective Stud. A visit to a fully operational successful stud such as Bective would be such an amazing experience for racing fans and we really look forward to seeing what future plans bring.”

The 2022 Punchestown Festival takes place from Tuesday 26th to Saturday 30th April. For full event details and tickets please visit www.punchestown.com

The 2022 Grade 1 Bective Stud Champion Novice Hurdle
1. Adamantly Chosen – WP Mullins
2. Brandy Love – WP Mullins
3. Bring On The Night – WP Mullins
4. Classic Getaway – WP Mullins
5. Colonel Mustard – Mrs. L. Fowler
6. Constitution Hill – Nicky Henderson
7. Dysart Dynamo – WP Mullins
8. El Fabiolo – WP Mullins
9. Farout – WP Mullins
10. Flame Bearer – PMJ Doyle
11. Gatsby Grey – O McKiernan
12. Gibraltar – WP Mullins
13. Grangee – WP Mullins
14. Ha D’or – WP Mullins
15. Highland Charge – N Meade
16. Hunters Yarn – WP Mullins
17. Jondon – Nicky Henderson
18. Kilcruit – WP Mullins
19. Largy Debut – H de Bromhead
20. Micro manage – WP Mullins
21. Mighty Potter – G Elliott
22. Sir Gerhard – WP Mullins
23. State Man – WP Mullins
24. Three Stripe Life – G Elliott
25. Vina Ardanza – G Elliott
**ENDS**

Equine Greats lead the way at the Punchestown Festival in The Great Comeback

HoneyHill clash, Clan Des Obeaux title defence & Galopin Des Champs/Bob Olinger rematch just some of the treats in store

A stupendous catalogue of some of jump racing’s most lustrous talents feature as the entries for the Punchestown Festival’s 12 Grade 1 races are released today.
Anticipation is building for what is being billed as ‘The Great Comeback’ as the five-day Punchestown Festival gets under way on Tuesday, April 26 and continues right through to Saturday, April 30.

Quality is the watchword throughout all the categories, as a host of previous Grade 1 winners, Cheltenham and Aintree victors, elite champions and stars of the future eye the Punchestown Festival to bring the curtain down on another thrilling season of jumps racing.
The dream heavyweight clash between record-breaking champion, dual Champion Hurdle winner and 2021 PADDY POWER CHAMPION HURDLE victor Honeysuckle and the pretender to her throne, Constitution Hill is still in the pipeline.
The eye is drawn to a host of delectable treats right through the five-day carnival but the prospect of HoneyHill unfolding at such an arena and with so much at stake has the entire racing world on tenterhooks.
The Friday, April 29 feature has attracted ten entries in total, with Henderson also opting to give an entry to Epatante, Honeysuckle’s predecessor as Cheltenham Champion Hurdle winner, who chased her home in March before recording an impressive triumph in the Aintree Hurdle on Saturday.

Gordon Elliott has entered Teahupoo and Zanahiyr. The former disappointed in the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle when hotly fancied, Zanahiyr was a brave third before falling at the last flight in the Aintree Hurdle when still in contention.
Elliott has enjoyed a very strong campaign, with five domestic Grade 1s, two Cheltenham successes and then Saturday’s stunning Grade 1 double at Aintree, on the same day that Delta Work finished third in the Grand National.

He has many fond memories of the Punchestown Festival and emphasises it as a high priority in his year.
“We’ve made entries for all the Grade 1 races at Punchestown and we will be well represented throughout the week,” said Elliott.
“It’s our season-ending Festival in Ireland and a fantastic five days. We’ve had a bit of luck there in the past and hopefully we can finish the season off with a high. It’s where my owners want to have runners and it’s where I want to have runners.

“We had two winners at Cheltenham and two Grade 1 winners at Aintree and the horses have been running well. We haven’t always had the best of luck in the last few weeks but a lot of the horses that weren’t winning were hitting the crossbar and finishing second so it was brilliant to have the couple of big winners at Aintree and see Delta Work and Escaria Ten run so well in the National itself.
“We’ve had some great days at Punchestown. It’s a brilliant place and they’ve a great team there on the track and behind the scenes and they provide beautiful ground which is so important at this time of year.

“My memories of Punchestown go way back. I won the Grade 1 Champion Bumper there on King’s Road in 1998 for Nigel Twiston-Davies. For me to win a Grade 1 as a jockey was a brilliant thrill and that was another great day… that wasn’t today or yesterday though!
“We won the race with Fayonagh then in 2017 when she did the Cheltenham/Punchestown double which was another great day. She was a special mare.

“I’ll never forget the day Don Cossack won the Punchestown Gold Cup there in 2015. I had made no secret of how much I thought of Don Cossack and he showed how tough and talented he was that day after being third at Cheltenham and winning at Aintree he still came back and put up one of his best performances to date to win at Punchestown.”
Three Stripe Life was among Elliott’s Liverpool leviathans and the six-year-old is included a stellar line-up in Friday’s other Grade 1, the ALANNA HOMES CHAMPION NOVICE HURDLE, where he could be joined by Minella Crooner, who is also among the IRISH MIRROR NOVICE HURDLE entries.

“I’d hope to have a runner in each of the novice hurdles. Three Stripe Life was brilliant at Aintree and will go over fences next season so he might take in Punchestown but again, he’ll tell us over the next few days. He’s a horse to really look forward to next season.
“Minella Crooner has options of the Alanna Homes and the Irish Mirror Novice Hurdles. It was disappointing that he picked up a setback just before Cheltenham but it was very minor. We were just forced to miss a few days with him at the wrong time but he’ll go to Punchestown fresh now and I’ve been happy with him in the last couple of weeks and I’m looking forward to getting him back out.”
Sir Gerhard denied Three Stripe Life at Grade 1 level at the Dublin Racing Festival and Cheltenham and he is also included in the entries for the Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle. Other top-tier victors from the Willie Mullins yard, The Nice Guy and Minella Cocooner could also line up, while Aintree Grade 1 winner Jonbon is another possibility to represent Nicky Henderson and champion owner, JP McManus.
The Punchestown Festival kicks into gear on Tuesday, April 26 with three Grade 1s, the BECTIVE STUD CHAMPION NOVICE HURDLE starting it all off. Constitution Hill, Sir Gerhard, Three Stripe Life and Jonbon hold entries in this contest too, while County Hurdle winner State Man would be an intriguing contender.

Three Stripe Life’s fellow Cullentra inmate, Mighty Potter got the better of him in the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas but will be on the redemption trail after being pulled up in the Supreme at Cheltenham.
“Mighty Potter didn’t run his race at Cheltenham but has come home well and he’ll definitely go to Punchestown and I’d love to have a big winner there for his owners, Andrew and Gemma Brown.
“We also have Fil Dor for them as well and he’ll go for the BALLYMORE CHAMPION FOUR-YEAR-OLD HURDLE on the Saturday. He has to try turn the tables with Vauban, who beat him at Cheltenham and the Dublin Racing Festival but we’ll give it a go. Punchestown is a different type of test and if he can run his race we’d be delighted.”

Tuesday’s other Grade 1s include the DOOLEY INSURANCE CHAMPION NOVICE CHASE and WILLIAM HILL CHAMPION CHASE.
The latter may only have attracted seven entries but it offers the likelihood of the Cheltenham champion Energumene resuming rivalries with his Closutton stablemate Chacun Pour Soi, who came a cropper five out at Prestbury Park and has a fantastic Punchestown Festival record. Another stablemate, Ryanair Chase winner Allaho is also included, along with the Joseph O’Brien-trained Aintree Grade 1 winner Fakir D’oudairies.

Meanwhile, the DOOLEY INSURANCE NOVICE CHAMPION CHASE offers the possibility of a fantastic rematch between Galopin Des Champs and Bob Olinger, with the former having fallen at the last with the Turners Novice Chase at his mercy. Bob Olinger picked up the pieces but was reported afterwards by trainer Henry de Bromhead to have suffered a muscle injury.

There are three more Grade 1 prizes up for grabs on Wednesday, April 27, the most sumptuous dish on the menu perhaps being the LADBROKES PUNCHESTOWN GOLD CUP, which features the Paul Nicholls-trained defending champion, Clan Des Obeaux attempting a remarkable ‘Double Double’, having repeated his Betway Bowl success of 12 months ago at Aintree last week. His bold, front-running effort in the Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup last year was one of the highlights of the entire week.

Dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Al Boum Photo was a length-and-a-half second on that occasion is likely to be back in the fray, as is his Cheltenham successor Minella Indo, who finished second in this year’s renewal to stablemate, A Plus Tard.
Another Grade 1-winning chaser set to take part is the Gordon Elliott-prepped Galvin, who finished just two and a half lengths behind Minella Indo in fourth last month. Elliott has also given an entry to Delta Work, who followed his Cross-Country Chase defeat of Tiger Roll with a very brave run in Saturday’s Grand National.

“Galvin is in the Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup and hopefully he’ll go there,” Elliott revealed.
“He kept answering every call for us this season and earned his crack at the Gold Cup. He ran well, he finished fourth and if we can freshen him up and get him back to Punchestown in good order he has some very solid form and it would be nice to give him another go at a race like that before he goes on his summer holidays. Delta Work has probably done enough for the season but we’ll have a chat with Michael and Eddie. They are very sporting in how they make their entries and they’ll let the horse tell us how he is closer to the time.”
The RACE & STAY AT PUNCHESTOWN INH FLAT RACE offers the possibility of another interesting reunion in the form of exciting Cheltenham Champion Bumper Facile Vega and American Mike, who was a valiant runner-up.

Sire Du Berlais put up a career best performance in claiming the scalp of dual Stayers’ Hurdle hero Flooring Porter at Aintree on Saturday and Elliott will see how JP McManus’s two-time Cheltenham Festival winner recovers from those exertions before deciding whether he takes on the likes of his Coral Cup-winning stablemate Commander Of Fleet, as well as Klassical Dream, Thyme Hill and the Emma Lavelle-trained former champion stayer, Paisley Park in the LADBROKES CHAMPION STAYERS HURDLE on Thursday, April 28.
“Sire Du Berlais probably did surprise me a small bit but he had the form to put up that type of performance and it was great to get him back to that,” Elliott enthused.

“He beat a very good horse in Flooring Porter and we were delighted. He is in the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers at Punchestown and we’ll just see how he comes home from Liverpool over the next few days and I’ll speak with JP McManus and Frank Berry and we’ll see what we do.
“We’ve got Commander Of Fleet in there as well and he deserves to take his chance after Cheltenham. He is a horse we’ve always liked and he was good and tough in Cheltenham and is on the ticket for Punchestown.”
Gentleman De Mee lowered the colours of Arkle Chase winner Edwardstone in Aintree last week and he heads a seven-strong Willie Mullins team in the BARBERSTOWN CASTLE NOVICE CHASE that also includes Dublin Racing Festival Grade 1 winner, Blue Lord as well as Gavin Cromwell’s Arkle runner-up Gabynako, who finished just ahead of Blue Lord at Cheltenham.
A fantastic feast concludes on Saturday, April 30, with two Grade 1s. The second of those is the aforementioned Ballymore Champion Four-Year-old Hurdle, while Nicky Henderson includes Epatante as well as Cheltenham Mares’ Hurdle winner Marie’s Rock in the COOLMORE IRISH EBF MARES’ CHAMPION HURDLE.

 

There’s No Place Like Home – Ruby Walsh Joins the Punchestown Team

Champion Ruby Walsh To Champion Punchestown

As the much anticipated 2022 Punchestown Festival approaches the racecourse today announced Ruby Walsh as Punchestown Brand Champion in a move that will see the 12 time champion jockey officially champion the home of Irish jump racing.

The Ruby Walsh story is one that has roots in Punchestown racecourse itself, a place that is very special to Ireland’s winning most national hunt jockey of all time. Born and raised only a few miles as the crow flies from the famous venue, Punchestown has been the stage for many highlights of Walsh’s illustrious career. Now a new chapter begins. In addition to a history-making career between the rails the 42-year old has successfully transitioned to broadcast pundit, presenter and columnist. For Walsh Punchestown is personal. His new role at the home of Irish jump racing extends beyond that of brand ambassador, consultant, expert or advisor. Walsh will work alongside the Punchestown team as they continue to improve, enhance and safeguard the future of the iconic racecourse.

Looking forward to embracing the role Walsh said “For me Punchestown is home and there’s no where like home. It’s is such a special place for me and my family. It’s always been a massive part of my life ever since I was a kid riding ponies and now I bring my own girls there for pony camp. From the festival in spring to the launch of the national hunt proper in the autumn I always seem to be at Punchestown whatever the season. This is more than a passion project and I will focus on areas that I consider to be key to the quality and appeal of racing such as attracting more UK runners to the festival and throughout the season. It’s a fantastic track with brilliant prize money and great hospitality for connections.”

Walsh added: “In 2023 Punchestown celebrates 200 years. Obviously whilst I won’t be around to see it I’d like to make a contribution and play my part in safe guarding the home of Irish jump racing for another 200 years!”

Conor O’Neill Punchestown CEO welcomed Walsh by saying: “Ruby has proven himself to be as capable on the ground as in the saddle when it comes to strategy, policy and the general awareness of the realities of balancing the commerciality of racing as a product whilst respecting the tradition and heritage of the game and the contribution of those who invest in it. With an incredible network of contacts and a career that has spanned 24 years, 213 grade one wins, 12 jockey championships and success in Ireland, the UK, Japan, Australia, France and the United States qualifies Ruby as somewhat of an expert in our eyes!”

The Walsh family is intrinsically linked to Punchestown. The only track in Ireland to showcase the traditional cross-country style racing, the track features the synonymous ‘Ruby’s Double’ a grass double bank which was erected in 1995 by the Moran Family of Pennsylvania in memory of their friend Ruby Walsh senior, father of Ted. The Morans of course owned 2000 Grand National and Irish National hero Papillon trained by Ted and ridden by Ruby. Both Ruby’s sister, top amateur Katie, and sister-in-law Nina Carberry decided to hang up their boots with winning rides at the 2018 Punchestown Festival.

Call it destiny, luck or fate but Walsh’s first win at Punchestown came by default when as a wetbehind the ears 17-year-old amateur he was in the weighroom preparing for home. Enda Bolger had just ridden in the champion bumper but was standing down for the rest of the day. As Bolger walked through the weighroom he tossed a set of colours to Walsh and said “you ride that in the next”. The set of colours were the famous plain navy of Sue and John Magnier, the next was the champion Hunters Chase and ‘that’ was Dixon Varner. Walsh won. The die was cast.

Walsh himself would say that many of his memorable career moments came at Punchestown. He is the winning most jockey in what is now the Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup and the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle with six wins in each. Walsh’s gold cup story begins at the very start. Upgraded from a handicap, 1999 was the inaugural running of the Grade 1 Punchestown Gold Cup that we know today. The horse was Imperial Call who in 1996 became the first Irish trained horse to win the Cheltenham Gold cup after a ten-year drought. Imperial Calls career was interrupted by injury but as a ten-year-old now trained by Ray Hurley with a 19-year-old Ruby Walsh on his back Imperial Call returned to the winners enclosure and entered the history books as the first winner of the Punchetsown Gold Cup. The following year an even better tale comes to fruition. Undoubtedly, the most remarkable season in the Walsh family’s racing history to date. Ruby and his father Ted team up to win the Aintree Grand National with Papillion. The show rolls on to the to Easter at Fairyhouse – another national in the bag this time with Commanche Court. Fast forward a couple of weeks to Punchestown and the Dermot Desmond owned ‘Commanche’ steps up to grade 1 glory in the Punchestown Gold Cup. At 20 years of age Ruby Walsh has exceeded and excelled.

Soon after Walsh was balancing a hugely successful arrangement as first rider for both Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls. The Walsh-Nicholls partnership certainly benefited Punchestown whilst reaping rewards for the duo and to this day Neptune Collonge is the only back to back winner of the Punchestown Gold Cup. Two of Walshs three Punchestown champion wins came from the Nicholls stable with the quirky Twist Magic (2008) and the brilliant Master Minded (2009).
The Punchestown champion hurdle has been the stage for some of Walsh’s most memorable Punchestown moments. The brilliant Hurricane Fly dominated the number one spot for four consecutive years and whilst Walsh missed out on the 2010 win due to injury it was a copy and paste scenario in 2011, ‘12 and ‘13. Vroum Vroum Mag and the wonderful Faugheen delivered the goods in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

And so to 2019. Rumours rumbled but there was no farewell tour or fanfare. A gold cup win and a wave as he crossed the line on Kemboy for longtime boss Willie Mullins. Walsh family members with emotion etched all over their faces started to gather in the parade ring and the reality began to sink in. Tears ran down Ted seniors face. Then, during his post-race interview over the racecourse PA system Walsh called it a day. Low key, on his own terms, at his favourite track surrounded by family and friends. Class.
Looking ahead to the future Ruby’s first assignment will be at Aintree. A word of advice to winning connections – plan ahead for a trip to Punchestown! One thing is sure, what Ruby Walsh applies himself to he succeeds at through dedication, strategic thinking and hard work and Punchestown will continue to be a beneficiary of this sporting icon.

The 2022 Punchestown Festival takes place from Tuesday 26th to Saturday 30th April. For full event details and bookings please visit www.punchestown.com
**ENDS**

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Trainer Peter Fahey has big plans for The Big Dog as the nine-year-old returns to Punchestown on Sunday looking for back-to-back successes in the Hollywoodbets Grand National Trial. A field of 13 runners go to post for Sunday’s €90,000 feature on what is a fascinating day of racing at the Kildare venue. 

The Big Dog had a luckless trip to the Welsh National at Chepstow when he had to be pulled up after a blunder at the ninth fence saw Johnny Burke lose his irons and forced him to pull up but Fahey believes that The Big Dog has improved since his Punchestown success 12-months ago and is still eyeing a potential tilt at the most famous race of all, the English Grand National at Aintree. 

“That was his first run in a handicap when he won this race last year and he’s come on since then,” Fahey said on Friday morning. “We haven’t had the rub of the green with him since; we were sitting for Chepstow but everything seems to be going right with him and he seems in good form. “I suppose the biggest plus from Chepstow was that it happened so early in the race and he came home a very fresh horse. He didn’t have a hard race.”

Elite amateur rider Jamie Codd renews his association with The Big Dog this weekend and gave Fahey the right vibes in midweek. “It was unfortunate what happened over in Chepstow but he’s come out of the race fine and he’s working away well. Jamie Codd sat up on him on Tuesday morning and was delighted with him. We’re looking forward to running him,” Fahey continued. “We always knew when we stepped him up into handicap company, where he’s better in a bigger field, it would be better for him. He was running around in beginner’s chases with small fields and running big races in them (including finishing a close third to subsequent Thyestes Chase and Troytown Chase winners Longhouse Poet and Run Wild Fred also at Punchestown) but we always knew he’s a better horse in a big field. “If he runs a big race, we’d be definitely considering going to Aintree. Hopefully we’ll get the rub of the green this time and put in the type of performance we think he’s capable of.”

The Hollywoodbets Grand National Trial is headed on ratings by the Gordon Elliott-trained Coko Beach who is one of four runners for the trainer. Floueur, Death Duty and Torygraph complete his team for the race, while Gavin Cromwell has two interesting contenders in Alfa Mix and Jimmil. Stones And Roses represents champion trainer Willie Mullins and Charles Byrnes has booked Liam Quinlan to take a 5lbs allowance off Doctor Duffy. 
Elsewhere on Sunday’s card, Cheltenham Festival clues could be on offer in the Hollywoodbets Rated Novice Chase as the Willie Mullins-trained Ciel De Neige chases a hat-trick against the likes of Dancing On My Own, You Raised Me Up and Poseidon. 

The INH Stallion Owners EBF Novice Hurdle looks an intriguing contest with the highly touted Largy Debut bidding to bounce back from a disappointing outing at Leopardstown over Christmas. He’ll meet the Willie Mullins-trained Deploy The Getaway and the highly impressive course and distance winner Supreme Jet. 
Racing on Sunday begins with the Hollywoodbets PP Hogan Cross Country Chase over Punchestown’s famous banks course and some old favourites like Call It Magic, Alpha Des Obeaux and Ballyboker Bridge will line up here. 

Hollywoodbets is thrilled to enjoy the golden opportunity of reinvesting in the Irish racing community on the occasion of the purple brand’s 2nd birthday.
We are celebrating the milestone by promoting the Hollywoodbets Grand National Trial at Punchestown on Sunday 13 February. Hollywoodbets is offering a promotion aligned to the Hollywoodbets Grand National trial. Place a win bet with a minimum stake of £/€10 on the Hollywoodbets Grand National Trial at Punchestown and stand a chance to win a share of £/€10,000 if your selection wins and then goes on to win either the English or Irish Grand National.   

Hollywoodbets’ Andrew Halligan said that this incentive is a massive boost for Irish Racing punters and creates a great hype over the period from 13th February to 18thApril.
“We are excited to get behind the Irish racing punters! Please look out for the Hollywoodbets activation team, who will be on course at Punchestown on Sunday” Halligan said.
Log onto www.hollywoodbets.ie for all your betting opportunities.

First Race: 1.40pm & seven races on the card.

Gates: 12pm

Admission: €15 & €10 OAP’s/Student’s 

Don’t Forget: Last Chance to SAVE 15% on Festival 2022 tickets, offer ends midnight Sunday 13 Feb. Book Here