Welcome to Winter Festival 2023!
The new look Winter Festival will take place on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th November 203.
What’s the new look?
There is a new racing line up. We have consolidated top quality races to create a brilliant Grade 1 double header across the weekend. The Unibet Morgiana takes place on Saturday and the famous John Durkan Chase is the star on Sunday. Like all great shows there is a brilliant supporting cast with the graded, rated, listed and cross country racing on offer.
Why has it moved date?
The new dates are a week later than normal which means our Winter Festival no longer clashes with Cheltenham. It also means a preferred lead in time for horses that may wish to run in the Durkan Chase and then target another festive feature race. The traditional Durkan meeting in December has also suffered from adverse weather in recent years so we’re hoping for better conditions in November.
Who will be there?
People make Punchestown and the Winter Festival is a great gathering of all ages. Seasoned racing fans rub shoulders with groups on a fun day out. Young families enjoy the free entertainment and Playroom area whilst friends and colleagues gather to enjoy top class dining and beverages in the restaurants. Punchestown has a great option for all budgets and requirements.
First race at 11.45 and last race around 4pm. At this time of year racing starts and finishes early for daylight hours. Bars and live music for one and a half hours after the last.
The ever popular Winter Festival Race & Dine package is a sell out every year. There are a selection of trackside restaurants and private suites to choose from. This weekend is ideal for special occasion celebrations and pre-Christmas gatherings. We are also delighted to welcome so many visitors from the UK. Talk to our hospitality team to secure your lovely social day out at Punchestown.
There will be a shuttle bus back to Naas after racing both days. Please visit the getting here page for travel options.
If the Race & Dine package doesn’t suit don’t worry as the brilliant Lily & Wild catering team will be cooking up delicious food at good value. Visit The Feedroom for delicious hot and cold options at decent prices. The Hay Cafe on ground level of the grandstand offers really tasty hot and cold snacks and great coffee. All of our bars and cafes accept contactless payment. The bars will give cash back up to €100 where available.
There’s something comforting about the sound of live music playing from the bar as darkness falls after a great day of racing. Keep the craic going with The ??? band on level one of the grandstand. Remember that there will be buses outside for transport to Naas.
The end of November means we are well within our rights to get festive! Bring the little ones along for an afternoon of fresh air, gorgeous horses, hot chocolate and free games and activities in The Playroom. A special visitor will make an appearance. Family ticket is only €25 for two adults with kids.
What To Wear:
It’s Ireland….in November….so wrap up to enjoy the best of the day. If you are attending one of our restaurant or suite venues anything from smart casual to fully suited and booted is advised. There are plenty of comfortable indoor venues with great access to the parade ring and viewing stands.
Need to know more?
Please visit the FAQ’s section or Plan your Visit section. Our team are happy to assist in any way we can so drop us an email on email@example.com or call +353 (0)45 897704
IT’S SUMMER IN TOWN TIME
When – Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 June 2023
What – A fun and relaxed weekend of racing with live music, BBQ, childrens entertainment, sports coverage and shuttle bus into Naas after racing.
First race – 2.30 Saturday and 2.15 Sunday (if there is an additional race racing may commence half an hour earlier. This will be confirmed at 48 hours before the race day)
Tickets – Buy in advance to save €5 per person and get a free racecard on the day – €15. On the day tickets – €20. Family deal on the day is €25 for two adults and ‘smallies’.
Food Options – BBQ Box and The Feedroom Cafe will be open both days with a selection of hot and cold dishes, barista coffee, delicious bakes and snacks.
Beverages – The Loft Bar, Madigans Bar and Pop Up Bars will be serving throughout the day. ID may be requested.
Elevate Your Weekend – The famous Race & Dine package with delicious four course lunch overlooking the track is the ultimate treat for just €89pp. The Punchestown Private Collection offers a variety of exclusive suites with various dining options for your special occasion.
Punchestown racecourse invites you to join the end of season celebration with a two day mini-festival taking place on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th June.
The Summer in Town meeting will have a relaxed, laid back festival vibe with special entertainment planned for each day. On Saturday 10th June there will be live music, buzzing bar scene, full sports coverage on big screens and of course great racing. All activities will be centered around the parade ring, horse walk and champions garden with delicious BBQ meal deals prepared and served by Lily and Wild. Younger racegoers will love the free fun zone in The Playroom with games, activities and face painting. The famous Punchestown Race & Dine packages are proving as popular as ever with The Watchhouse restaurant nearing full capacity and suites busy with special occasion celebrations. For customer’s convenience a Naas shuttle bus service will be in operation after racing for just €5 per person.
Day two of the Summer In Town meeting will see the focus shift to families and community. In addition to an afternoon of great racing action there will be children’s entertainment, games, face painting, bunting and picnic benches, The Ptown Ice Cream Van, The Playroom and up-close access to horses and jockeys. Early in the day Fit Club @ Punchestown takes place with €2,000 cash on offer in the inter club fitness fundraising challenge.
Punchestown supporters and festival goers will be interested to visit the exhibition of photos that have been chosen as finalists of the Punchestown – More than Horses photography competition. This initiative was run in association with Bermingham Cameras during the 2023 Punchestown Festival. Photography students, enthusiasts and club members were invited ‘to attempt to capture Punchestown in a photo where the subject is not necessarily the horse but more about the people, place and occasion”. Over fifty photographers took part throughout the event and the overall winner will be selected on Sunday 11th June.
Looking ahead to the Summer In Town mini-festival Punchestown CEO Conor O’Neill said “There is a real end of school term feel about the Summer in Town mini-festival. Punchestown mirrors the school year. We kick off in September, have a few big tests through the winter and then the business end of the season is the festival followed by a relaxing and enjoyable end of season party before the summer holidays. A lovely summers weekend at Punchestown would be a wonderful way to thank everyone for their support during the season and we really do look forward to seeing friends old and new on June 10th and 11th”.
Following the Summer In Town fixture, the home of Irish jump racing then takes the traditional break until mid-September when racing returns with a flat meeting before getting back to business in mid October for the jump season proper.
An additional fixture has been announced for Punchestown on Tuesday, May 23
Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) has announced there will be an additional meeting at Punchestown on Tuesday afternoon, May 23. This meeting is one of the three floating fixtures that were kept in reserve when the 2023 fixture list was published in order to meet the demands of the horse population at specific times of the year.
This meeting will close for entries by 12 noon on Thursday May 18 with declarations to run to be made by 10am on Sunday May 21.
The race programme details for this meeting will be published in due course and the time of the first race will be at 1.45pm.
Advance bookings save €5. €15 admission on the day.
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
O’Brien aiming for slice of the action with bargain buy in €75,000 Connolly’s RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Hurdle Series Final
After claiming significant prize money through the qualifiers, Terence O’Brien is aiming to add a “cherry on top” by targeting a tilt at the €75,000 Connolly’s RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Hurdle Series Final, which takes place on Wednesday, April 26th, the second day of the prestigious Punchestown Festival.
The Carrigtwohill trainer has been a regular participant since the series’ inauguration and his Ik’s Man is among 19 potential contenders for the final on Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup day. A €9,000 purchase at Tattersalls Ireland’s June Derby Sale in 2019, the Walk In The Park seven-year-old has been a good money-spinner for connections by being second in a couple of the qualifiers and making that initial outlay of €9,000 back from his three outings in qualifiers to date.
“The series is a great opportunity for horses that were bought at the sales under the €30,000 or €45,000 mark,” declares O’Brien. “It gives us a chance to be competitive in maiden hurdles all year. The final is another cherry on top if you can qualify for it, to give owners an opportunity to land at the festival on a big day. “We’ve won a few of the races before and were placed a good few times. The prize money is very good and it’s a brilliant series for the small trainer to be honest with you. “Ik’s Man has had three runs in the series and been placed in a couple. We’ll head to Punchestown. We’ve a good few owners involved in him and I’m sure they’ll all be delighted for a day out. If he just improves another little bit, he’ll hopefully be in the shake-up again.”
Now in its fifth year, the 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 €395,000 in prize money on offer throughout the series.
To enter the €75,000 final at the Punchestown Festival, EBF eligible horses must have run in one of the 16 qualifiers and have not won a graded or listed race.
Paul Nolan’s Sandor Clegane is the highest-rated acceptor, having achieved a mark of 141 following a number of consistent runs, following up his Connolly’s RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Maiden Hurdle victory at Punchestown in November with two placed efforts at Grade 1 level, most recently when just a length and a quarter shy of Albert Bartlett victor Stay Away Fay at Cheltenham.
Peter Fahey, who certainly has the Midas touch having won the last two renewals with Surprise Package and Ambitious Fellow, is represented by Rocco Bay, triumphant in the Connolly’s RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Maiden Hurdle at Limerick last May. He was last seen in behind Hands Of Gold in a Naas qualifier and the promising Arthur Moore-trained five-year-old is another possible runner.
Dual winner Senior Chief is an interesting entry for Henry de Bromhead, while the Noel Meade-trained Nucky Johnson is a course victor who would be competitive if lining up. It is a field that speaks to the enduring quality of a series that has consistently produced top-grade alumni.
Three Card Brag certainly fits into that category. The son of Jet Away actually had Sandor Clegane and Nucky Johnson in second and third when scoring in a red-hot Connolly’s RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Maiden Hurdle at Galway last October.
He has been highly tried by Gordon Elliott since then, finishing placed in two graded events before getting back on the mark in Fairyhouse. His most recent run was in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle, where he finished fifth, four and a half lengths behind Sandor Clegane. Elliott understands the value the series, with recent Irish Grand National runner-up Gevrey among its graduates.
“The Connolly’s RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Hurdle Series is a definite option for Three Card Brag,” said Elliott. “The only thing is maybe on better ground he might prefer to go a bit further than two and a half miles but it’s a great pot and a great initiative and I love to support it wherever I can. “It would be nice to win the final at some point. I haven’t done so yet but we’ve had some nice horses come through the series like Gevrey, who was third in the final a few years ago and he was second in the Irish National a couple of weeks ago so it’s a great series.”
Nessa Joyce, Irish EBF Manager, said: “The Connolly’s RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Series has gone from strength to strength in a short period of time, thanks to the support of the many trainers and owners who make it a key target each year. This season 70 different trainers campaigned 119 EBF eligible store-bought horses in 16 qualifying races, with an average auction price of just over €14,000, so there is great anticipation to see who will win the €75,000 final next week. The Irish EBF board would like to thank all the connections for supporting the series and special thanks goes to our sponsorship partners Connolly’s RED MILLS for their continuing generous support.”
Gareth Connolly, CEO Connolly’s RED MILLS, added: “We are proud to sponsor the RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Series for the fifth season and are looking forward to the €75,000 Final at Punchestown next week. This series has provided a platform for horses in the that middle segment of the market to compete for good prize money, with each of the qualifying races worth €20,000, thus supporting the owners and trainer who take part in the series. “The series has contributed greatly to the stimulation of the middle market, and the stats show how it has promoted healthy competition, fostering growth within the industry. As a company dedicated to the wellbeing and nutrition of horses, we recognise the importance of investing in events like this and to promote the industry that supports our business all year round. We want to thank the team at the Irish EBF and Punchestown for being such great partners and thank also all the trainers and owners who have run horses in the series since it was launched in 2019.”
For Further Information:
Jane Davis, Head of Equine Marketing, Connolly’s RED MILLS
Goresbridge, Kilkenny, Co. Kilkenny
M: +353 86 3490681, E: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @REDMILLShorse
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This coming April 25th-29th, we will be showcasing our Eimear 6.7m Wooden Gazebo at the Punchestown Race festival. You will be able to purchase your race card from here and get to view the elegant Nordic Spruce structure for yourself. We at OutdoorLiving.ie pride ourselves on the vast range of wooden structures we supply. Many of these are on display at our Glen of the Downs showroom where you can walk around with the backdrop of the Sugar Loaf mountain in your view throughout the premises. Working with Punchestown officials, we also have a 30 second video about us & our range of products which will be playing in between races in the lounges and bar areas.
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Mullins in tip-top shape for Punchestown after surgery
Galopin Des Champs leads power-packed team for “end of term” carnival
Willie Mullins has pronounced himself fit for action ahead of the Punchestown Festival, following a successful hip operation three weeks ago.
Mullins has enjoyed spectacular success at the traditional conclusion to the Irish jump racing season and reports that most of his top guns will join him in making the journey from Closutton to Punchestown from Tuesday to Saturday, April 25th-29th next week.
The champion trainer – he will be crowned top dog for the 17th time – was speaking in a wide-ranging online interview (attached) in which he touched on a range of topics not confined to but including his admiration for stable jockey Paul Townend, starting protocols, his 93-year-old mother Maureen’s “incredible appetite” for the sport, and why he has a picture of triple Ladbrokes Champion Stayers’ Hurdle winner Quevega inside his trademark Fedora.
His Punchestown team is headed by Galopin Des Champs, who is on track for a possible reunion with Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Bravemansgame in the Ladbrokes Gold Cup, a race offered further intrigue by Henry de Bromhead committing another Cheltenham victor, Envoi Allen to taking part. Energumene, Impaire Et Passe, El Fabiolo and Lossiemouth are other Cheltenham scorers aiming to complete a high-class double, having emerged from their exertions in better nick than their trainer, who was quite lame at Prestbury Park and had an operation scheduled upon his return.
“I was in Tramore the other day and I’m on the gallops every morning,” Mullins declared. “I’ve missed very little time. “It’s fantastic what surgeons can do nowadays. I was amazed. Three weeks ago (Monday) I went in, and they kicked me out of the hospital on Wednesday morning. I was back on the gallop the next morning. I missed a few mornings; I did a little too much early on. When I came off the painkillers it soon settled me back! But it’s coming along nicely so hopefully I’ll be well able for Punchestown.”
He has spoken before of his rich memories of going to Punchestown as his legendary father Paddy brought a slew of stars from Doninga, and of his admiration for the “amphitheatre” of racing.
“It’s a nice time of year preparing for Punchestown. It’s like then end of term, when you’re going to school, you’re looking forward to the last exam and getting away for the summer holidays.
“From the time we were kids growing up, Punchestown was the end-of-season festival but it’s grown so much. The vast quality of the races, the huge prize money, the way that management are able to keep the ground safe for good horses. It’s a credit to the organisation. “Punchestown is a tremendous festival. It’s lucky that it’s a little later in the season. It usually get the weather, gets grass, gets everything. It’s set later in the afternoon when people can get to the races and enjoy themselves. It’s got a huge amount going for it.”
He describes his Cheltenham yield of six winners as “fantastic,” while noting that there was some external expectation that he might double that tally given he was sending his biggest team. But winning the Cheltenham Gold and Queen Mother Champion Chase, as well as a number of key novice events that suggest he has the next crop covered, left him very satisfied.
Champion jockey, Paul Townend was hailed for his ride on Galopin Des Champs in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but it paled in comparison to his heroics on board I Am Maximus in the Irish Grand National.
When Mullins commented on tactics deployed on Facile Vega at the Dublin Racing Festival in February, it was interpreted as criticism of Townend but that wasn’t how the boss saw it and he leaves no doubt about how highly he rates and values his man. “I didn’t call it criticism at the time. I just thought it was a tactic that didn’t go right. Put it the other way around. What I asked him to do on I Am Maximus in the Irish National, I had tied him down to instructions because he’s a particularly awkward horse that doesn’t like going right-handed. I’d asked him to go down the inside so he could keep horses on his outside the whole time but after a circuit, Paul changed his mind. He did the exact opposite and went down the outside and it worked.
“In Cheltenham, Paul was a jockey in the Gold Cup. In Fairyhouse, Paul was a horseman in the Irish Grand National. All he’d gleaned from pony racing, from hunting, from just riding, he put into use on I Am Maximus. I thought it was a fantastic ride. Whatever we thought about Galopin Des Champs in the Gold Cup, I thought his riding in Fairyhouse was excellent, something top drawer.
“I always think a good jockey is a guy that can pull a race out of the fire and win on horses that he shouldn’t win on. That’s the difference between great jockeys and good jockeys, I think. And he pulled that one out of the fire. That was an absolutely extraordinary ride.”
Aintree didn’t yield the same dividends. He watched events unfold from his sofa, including the disruption caused by protestors, and could only glean from the pictures what the rest of us did but feels the authorities deserve praise for how they handled the situation. The starting procedures are a source of frustration, however.
“In flat racing, if you don’t go into the stalls, you’re withdrawn but I think a lot of jockeys maybe cynically hold up starts when they haven’t a good position.
“Is there a case for a race being advertised at quarter-past five, if you’re not there at quarter-past five with your horse, that’s your problem? The starter shouldn’t have to wait for you unless there’s a real problem. To me, they should be ready to go and facing the right direction. Too many jump races are stopped with a false start waiting for a horse that has no intention of going. Even if he does go in the end, why upset 25 other horses or 30 horses for one horse? We’ve had plenty of horses over the years like that. You get your chance to line up and if the rest of them are in the right order, let them go.”
And what about that photo of Quevega, spotted as he doffed his hat in acknowledgement?
“I always keep a photograph of Quevega in my hat,” he exclaims with a hearty laugh, before explaining. “It’s just a business card I have in case someone picks up the wrong hat. My details are on the other side of it. I was flabbergasted the detail that you could see from that far away. But sure why wouldn’t Quevega be in my hat!”
A GUIDE TO WILLIE MULLINS’ PUNCHESTOWN RUNNERS 2023
GALOPIN DES CHAMPS (Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup)
“He’s in great shape. We’re aiming for Punchestown since Cheltenham. I didn’t have any worry about his stamina until about four furlongs out (in Cheltenham) when I said, ‘Right, now,’ when what I was convinced about was gonna happen or not. I just took his novice hurdle form to mean he would stay three-and-a-quarter miles easily as an older horse. I didn’t have any fear about him staying all year. I was surprised myself how much doubt crept in as they rounded the top of the hill.
“But Paul seemed to be going well at all stages. The only little blip was at the third-last where he brushed the top but the minute he did that, Paul just pulled him together, got him in behind the others, gave him just a little bit of time to recover. You could see Paul’s body language telling you, ‘This fella’s got plenty in the tank.’”
“JANIDIL is other one that could go there so hopefully we’ll be nicely represented.”
ENERGUMENE (William Hill Champion Chase)
“I was particularly pleased how he did it in Cheltenham. He’d been working like that at home. We were all a little disappointed when he disappointed at the rescheduled Clarence House Chase but I think we learned so much that day which meant he was a very good winner of the Champion Chase. The white fences might have upset him, we sharpened up tactics. I think he’s a fair sort to do what he did two years running and in the manner he did it in Cheltenham.
“Those ground conditions are very helpful to him as well. He probably won’t get those in Punchestown but if he does get wet weather, he’s going to be very difficult to beat with a clear round.
“We have GENTLEMAN DU MEE in that race and he won’t be hanging around at the start. That’s his nature and Energumene can follow away. Paul has the confidence to do both. I imagine, looking at the field, we could have four runners in the race with BLUE LORD and CHACUN POUR SOI taking their chances.”
STATE MAN (Paddy Power Champion Hurdle)
“I was happy with him at Cheltenham. He will run here. He’s in good form. We’ve SHARJAH, VAUBAN and ECHOES IN RAIN in the race. We will see whether Echoes goes for the Coolmore Irish EBF Mares’ Champion Hurdle or not. She could be a difficult ride over two and a half miles but ratings-wise, she would look the one for that, with Love Envoi the biggest challenge if she were to come but that looks the race to go for. In the same race, BRANDY LOVE would probably prefer to go left-handed but I think she’ll improve a good bit on her Cheltenham run.
“But back to the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle, State Man’s in good shape. There’s no Constitution Hill so hopefully he’ll be the one to beat there. Possibly VAUBAN needs a longer trip and we’ll give him a good shot at the flat later in the season to see what he can do there but the plan will be to go to Punchestown first.”
KLASSICAL DREAM (Ladbrokes Champion Stayers’ Hurdle)
“KLASSICAL DREAM is the one that can go back to Punchestown and win it (for the third year in a row). We didn’t know whether we were going to make it or not to Cheltenham but we thought his work was good enough. We took our chance. I think you’ll see the real Klassical Dream in Punchestown.
“It’s great to see ASTERION FORLONGE and MONKFISH coming back. Those horses had long breaks and have little turnaround from Fairyhouse to Punchestown and that’s a big negative for me. If they ran a good race, I’d be very happy. WHATDEAWANT is probably just not good enough. I’d be sticking with Klassical Dream.”
LOSSIEMOUTH (Ballymore Champion Four-Year-Old Hurdle)
“I was particularly worried when LOSSIEMOUTH hit what appeared to be the front (in the Triumph Hurdle). She took off with Paul at the top of the hill. It’s a long way out for a mare to be in front. She took over herself from Paul and I could see Paul wondering, ‘I don’t want to stop her but I don’t want to let her go either,’ and he did fantastically well to manage her at what would have been five furlongs out and keep enough in reserve to finish the race.
“We haven’t missed much with her this season. Christmas, Dublin Racing Festival, Cheltenham. That’s a lot on a filly and she’s not the biggest filly in the world but she has a huge constitution so hopefully, we ask for just one more day. There’s no reason to say that she won’t give it. She’s just so laidback, I don’t think racing or anything fazes her or takes too much out of her. She’s really top class.
“GALA MARCEAU will definitely go. BLOOD DESTINY was a little disappointing in Fairyhouse and maybe should have another go. I think he hasn’t shown his best to us and may need another year with summer grass under his belt. GUST OF WIND should have another go as well. I think ZARAK THE BRAVE is going to be ready to run. He’s a nice type. He showed a lot and then got a colic during the season and we had to put him to one side. But he’s a horse to keep an eye on.”
IMPAIRE ET PASSE, FACILE VEGA, GAELIC WARRIOR and IL ETAIT TEMPS are all ready for action. I very seldom change the way I do things. When you look at Facile Vega and Impaire Et Passe, you’re probably going to separate them between the KPMG Champion Novice Hurdle and the Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle. DIVERGE comes into the KPMG Champion Novice Hurdle after the form of Liverpool big time. Gaelic Warrior might want a longer trip and could be one of the Irish Mirror Novice Hurdle. HUNTERS YARN was probably a little disappointing. We’ll see how they work this week and look at it but they’re ready for action.
“I don’t have any negatives about CHAMP KIELY for the Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle. Facile Vega might come into the reckoning there (although) I’m not too worried about him over two miles. I always thought his dam Quevega had plenty of speed to win over two miles and I think she did earlier in her career in Punchestown but we always went down the longer road with her because we had Hurricane Fly and Annie Power around that time. This fellow has plenty of speed. We saw that in Cheltenham, he was so fast down between the third-last and the second-last. He’s not short of speed. It’s just using it, just the way the race worked out in Cheltenham. Like all our novices, they’re usually entered in both the two and a half and the two, or else the two and a half and a three and it’ll be one or the other.
“Gaelic Warrior is one that could come in for the two-and-a-half-mile race. Impaire Et Passe, no problem for him doing two and a half around Punchestown. We ran him over two miles in the Moscow Flyer in Punchestown before Cheltenham and the speed he showed in Cheltenham was fantastic but then again, that was against two-and-a-half-mile horses. NICK ROCKETT was very good in Fairyhouse. I might just leave him now. He’s in great shape but there’s a right shine to him after he did in Fairyhouse and whether I need to run him again, I don’t know. We’ll be well represented in it again.
“EMBASSY GARDENS and PARMENION are other possibles for the Irish Mirror Novice Hurdle. SEABANK BISTRO is one for it and SHANBALLY KID is one I think hasn’t given his best yet. Embassy Gardens and Gaelic Warrior are probably the two best. Embassy Gardens is a horse that could be improving as we come into the Spring so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he’ll run a big race there. Gaelic Warrior is a horse that probably needs to go out in trip. He shows plenty at home here. He did win the two-mile handicap in Leopardstown but I think he might be better off once he goes out in trip and maybe gets over a fence as well.”
“EL FABIOLO and DYSART DYNAMO have come out of Cheltenham well. SAINT ROI might run in the Barberstown Castle Novice Chase too. He seems to have come back fine from Aintree and we might roll the dice and let him take his chance. It’s a big prize and he won’t be doing anything else after that.
“El Fabiolo looks like he could be the real deal and could be the one contending for championship honours next year. We just hope we can keep him right, keep him sound. The type of performance he put in was fantastic. He’s a real nice prospect to have in the yard for next season.
“Dysart Dynamo can be his own worst enemy but a lot of people like that in a horse too, that he’s so exuberant and loves his game. I’m hoping as he gets older or gets a bit wiser, he learns how to settle and temper his enthusiasm. But of course sometimes, half his ability might be in his enthusiasm, especially for two-mile chases and he’s always a horse to be afraid of in one of those races. One day he’ll put it all together and maybe put in a huge performance.
“We’re well represented in the Dooley Insurance Champion Novice Chase. JAMES DU BERLAIS could go out to three miles and RAMILLIES could. APPRECIATE IT disappointed me a little bit in Fairyhouse. It might be too much coming back again. However, we’ve nothing left to lose and maybe we’ll just let him go there and take his chance. He’s a fair sort, I think, on his day. You’d have thought going up to two and a half miles should be enough for him. Sometimes horses lose their form and he might be one of those. Maybe he wants a trip but he wouldn’t be going there fresh. That race is going to be a tough race. He’s going to be one of the higher-rated horses in the race but a lot will depend on what he does. One bit of work will do him, maybe two. He seems to be fine. He was fine after the race, eating and drinking so that’s usually enough and we’ll let him take his chance.
“SIR GERHARD might go for a shorter trip. ALLEGORIE DE VASSY might go for a shorter trip.”
RACE &STAY AT PUNCHESTOWN INH FLAT RACE
“We’ve got a nice field of horses here. BALLYBURN was very impressive when he won the other day. Very hard on himself but I think he’ll be better off next time. DANCING CITY is a horse that I think is improving me. IT’S FOR ME is good enough to be in the field. RATH GAUL BOY’s performance when he was second to John Kiely’s horse (Champion Bumper winner A Dream To Share), we were a little bit disappointed on the day but his form looks well now. TULLYHILL looks a fantastic horse. When he won, he looked above average. WESTERN DIEGO is a nice type and WESTPORT COVE is another nice type. I’d imagine Ballyburn, Dancing City, It’s For Me, maybe Western Diego would be the top ones there. We’ve plenty to throw at it thankfully because it’s always a good sign that you might have novice hurdlers coming on for the following season.”
PUNCHESTOWN FESTIVAL FULLY EQUIPPED WITH HSS HIRE SPONSORSHIP
Media Release 20/04/2023: Punchestown Racecourse today welcomed the news that HSS Hire will complete the 2023 Punchestown Festival sponsorship line up as an exciting four-year deal is announced. Over 110,000 people from throughout Ireland, the UK and beyond are expected to attend the jump racing grand finale taking place from Tuesday 25th to Saturday 29th April.
This day next week the HSS Hire Handicap Steeplechase of €100,000 will be the penultimate race on prestigious Punchestown Gold Cup Day, Wednesday 26th April. The two-mile-five-furlong steeplechase boasts a varied roll call of previous winners with trainers Willie Mullins, Mouse Morris and Nicky Henderson landing the spoils in the last three runnings respectively.
Established in Ireland over 30 years, HSS Hire have grown to become the market leader in the tool hire and equipment management sector. The nationwide branch network caters for all size projects from large scale businesses to trade and home improvement customers. With branches in Galway, Cork, Waterford, Limerick and Dublin HSS Hire is a convenient solution across the country.
HSS Hire Ireland Managing Director Michael Killeen looked ahead to an exciting enhancement of the company’s association with the home of Irish jump racing: “HSS Hire is in a period of growth and we have recently made major investment in a range of powered access equipment which is filtering out to our nationwide branches. No doubt some of that gear will be in use at Punchestown where we have been involved for a number of years. Elevating this involvement to sponsorship status made sense for us during this time of growth. Punchestown and HSS Hire have a similar solution-based approach when it comes to delivering excellent customer service so we look forward to developing the partnership with the Punchestown team”.
Conor O’Neill, Punchestown CEO explained the background to today’s announcement: “The Punchestown Festival site of 430 acres is considerable. The event build is massive with a significant demand for equipment and tools. Michael Killeen and the team at HSS Hire have always been available to assist, advise and supply whenever we needed support. Having access to a nationwide network of supplies and expertise is an invaluable resource when under pressure for deadlines and solutions. It is a pleasure to welcome HSS Hire to the Punchestown Festival sponsorship line-up”.
The 2023 Punchestown Festival will take place from Tuesday 25th to Saturday 29th April. A prize fund of over €3.3 million is on offer across a forty-race programme that includes 12 grade one contests. Punchestown is big business and is Ireland’s largest sporting corporate hospitality event with over 17,000 guests expected to enjoy the famous dining packages and spectacular views.
With Ireland’s flagship jump racing festival only days away, Punchestown Racecourse today announced a major three-year sponsorship deal with global professional services firm KPMG.
The newly titled €125,000 Grade 1 KPMG Champion Novice Hurdle takes place on the opening day of the sporting highlight, Tuesday 25th April, and will raise the curtain for no less than twelve grade one contests across the five-day programme.
The 2023 renewal of the two-mile championship race has received a top-quality field of 19 entries featuring Cheltenham festival hero Marine Nationale in pursuit of a third grade one this season. Barry Connell’s pride and joy is unbeaten in five runs, only beginning his career at Punchestown in May of last year.
The first five from Cheltenham have entries in the KPMG sponsored Punchestown equivalent with Facile Vega, Diverge, Il Etait Temps and Hunters Yarn part of a strong Willie Mullins contingent that also includes Ballymore one-two, Impaire Et Passe and Gaelic Warrior.
Gordon Elliott has five entries – American Mike, Amir Kabir, Doctor Bravo, Found A Fifty and Irish Point – while Joseph O’Brien’s High Definition is another interesting possibility. Inthepocket finished fourth in the Supreme Hurdle at Cheltenham last month and is one of three entries for Henry de Bromhead along with Magical Zoe and the talented Arctic Bresil.
KPMG is no stranger to the jump racing scene since teaming up with the all-conquering Rachael Blackmore as brand ambassador in 2021. This deal builds on KPMG’s role as a partner of the 20×20 initiative to help elevate women’s sport and dedication that already includes ongoing sponsorships of Irish golfer Leona Maguire and the Dublin Ladies Gaelic football team.
Speaking at the announcement of KPMG’s support for the Punchestown Festival, Managing Partner Seamus Hand said: “Today’s announcement is a extension of KPMG’s support for Irish sport and homegrown talent. We are proud to have Rachael Blackmore as our brand ambassador and it’s inspirational for many to see her and other Irish athletes compete and win on racing’s biggest stages. We look forward to the return to Punchestown for the grand finale of the season, and we are delighted to be part of this occasion”.
Punchestown Racecourse’s Janet Creighton welcomed KPMG to the impressive sponsorship panel “We are delighted to welcome this announcement of what is now the KPMG Champion Novice Hurdle. This race boasts an all-star line-up of previous winners including Hurricane Fly, Faugheen and Jezki who all went on to achieve great things – it truly is a key indicator for excellence. We appreciate that KPMG consider and curate the events and individuals that they choose to support. That translates as commitment to building relationships which is an approach that we share so we really look forward to working alongside the KPMG team over the next three years and beyond”.
The 2023 Punchestown Festival takes place from Tuesday 25th to Saturday 29th April. A programme of 40 races and a prize fund of over €3.3 million attracts the best of Irish and British racing talent. For full information on one of Ireland’s favourite sporting, social and corporate hospitality events please visit www.punchestown.com
Galopin Des Champs to take on nearest rivals and de Bromhead’s special Envoi as Punchestown Festival Grade 1 entries revealed
Strong British contingent included as jumps season finishes with feast of quality fare
The potential for a mouth-watering renewal of the LADBROKES PUNCHESTOWN GOLD CUP involving the first three home in the Cheltenham version plus a host of other elite performers is the headline act as entries for the Punchestown Festival’s dozen Grade 1 races are released today.
The demand for the hottest tickets in ‘Town is immense as the Irish jumps season concludes in traditional fashion, with an all-star cast of equine and human heroes turning out in pursuit of some of the most significant prizes on the calendar from Tuesday, April 25 to Saturday, April 29.
The cross-channel challenge is always a vital ingredient of the festival mix and included among the plethora of quality-laden contests are 16 British-trained entries courtesy of Punchestown regulars Paul Nicholls, Nicky Henderson and Harry Fry, as well as Jeremy Scott, Donald McCain, Mark Rimell and Milton Harris.
LADBROKES PUNCHESTOWN GOLD CUP
Former Punchestown Festival winner Galopin Des Champs, who began his current campaign with an impressive triumph in the John Durkan Memorial Chase at the Kildare venue last December, delivered on all that was expected of him with a breathtaking victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup under a brilliant Paul Townend last month.
Champion trainer, Willie Mullins was quick to commit the Closutton behemoth to the Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup on Wednesday, April 26 and a rematch with Cheltenham runner-up Bravemansgame could be on the cards if Paul Nicholls’ King George VI Chase winner comes out of this weekend’s intended Aintree engagement in good fettle.
The interest doesn’t just centre on this pair however, as third-placed Conflated is also on target to do battle once more. Gordon Elliott also enters dual course winner Galvin and Fury Road, while the Mullins team is completed by previous Punchestown Festival winners Chacun Pour Soi and Capodanno, as well as another Grade 1 victor, Janidil.
Minella Indo is another former festival winner that could line up, the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero looking to make up for a below-par effort at Prestbury Park last time out.
His stablemate, Envoi Allen is an intriguing entrant, having illustrated his supreme talent once more by registering a third Cheltenham success in the Ryanair Chase and trainer Henry de Bromhead has issued a positive bulletin.
“This is a definite aim for Envoi Allen,” declared de Bromhead today. “He was a good winner of the Grade 1 in Down Royal over three miles and his only blip this season was in the King George VI at Cheltenham. At that time, we had three horses that went over to England and ran appallingly, though Envoi and A Plus Tard had independent reasons for that. Still, they were all beaten after three fences.
“In fairness to Envoi, he has done very little wrong and was brilliant in the Ryanair. He seems really good since then.
“Minella Indo was very disappointing in the Gold Cup. The start was a mess for him and nothing seemed to go right after that. He seems well again now and we’ve got three weeks to decide what we want to do.”
The possible field of 13 is completed by ‘Shark’ Hanlon’s very progressive Hewick, Fastorslow from the Martin Brassil yard and the Mouse Morris-trained French Dynamite.
PADDY POWER CHAMPION HURDLE
There are nine entries for the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle on Friday, April 28, headed by last year’s Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle hero and subsequent Morgiana Hurdle victor State Man.
A triple Grade 1 winner this term alone, the Marie Donnelly-owned six-year-old’s reputation was hardly dented by finishing a nine-length second to Constitution Hill at Cheltenham and appears Willie Mullins’ best chance of ending a six-year absence from the presentation ceremony, since Wicklow Brave scored in 2017.
Mullins has four contenders in all, the others being previous festival and course winners Vauban, Echoes In Rain and Sharjah.
Nicky Henderson includes former Champion Hurdle winner Epatante, who has accumulated seven Grade 1 triumphs in a brilliant career.
Zanahiyr bounced back to form when third at Cheltenham and is likely to run for Gordon Elliott, who has included Pied Piper as well. Fellow Meath trainer, Lorna Fowler has entered the hugely consistent Colonel Mustard.
Henry de Bromhead has taken the last two renewals with the incomparable Honeysuckle, who retired with a fourth straight Cheltenham success last month. The Knockeen conditioner could be represented by Ballyadam.
“Ballyadam is in good form. He’s rated 150 now and his run was really good in the County Hurdle (when he finished fifth). He has been running well and you do think he’s entitled to win one of them. He will get an entry in the Punchestown Handicap Hurdle as well but we said we’d stick him in here.
“It’s a race we have had so many great memories from thanks to Honeysuckle and it was just great to see her go out the way she did at Cheltenham. It was a fairytale ending and we’ll be following how she gets in her new life closely.”
WILLIAM HILL CHAMPION CHASE
Energumene will be a short-priced favourite with the sponsors to win the William Hill Champion Chase for the second year in a row on Tuesday, April 25 and record his third festival success on the spin. Willie Mullins’ bold-jumping, strong-travelling nine-year-old retained his Queen Mother Champion Chase crown in facile fashion and heads a possible field of nine that also includes stablemates Blue Lord, Chacun Pour Soi and Gentleman De Mee.
Captain Guinness ran superbly to finish runner-up to Energumene and is one of three entrants for Henry de Bromhead, though Maskada, a convincing victor of the Grand Annual Chase, and Magic Daze, who was left at the start in the Mares’ Chase, could have other assignments.
“Captain Guinness ran a blinder,” said de Bromhead. “We hoped he’d finish in the first three so it was brilliant that he did. We’ll see nearer the time where he’ll go but he’s been very good again this year.
“Funny enough, we were in two minds about running Magic Daze in the ground at Cheltenham so she sort of made the decision for us! I don’t think it was any reflection on her, it was just unfortunate at the start and hopefully it’ll be for luck and she’s a fresh horse now.
“Maskada is rated 150 now. She has black type already and has won two big handicaps this year which is amazing. She will also have an entry in the Hanlon Concrete Irish EBF Mares’ Chase and we’d probably be leaning towards that with her.”
LADBROKES CHAMPION STAYERS’ HURDLE
The Ladbrokes Champion Stayers’ Hurdle on Thursday, April 27 has attracted another top-class group, with the first three home in the dramatic Cheltenham three-miler all included in the 17 entrants along with the reigning champion and a host of others that have scored at the highest level.
Sire Du Berlais came out on top in the shadow of the Cotswolds and is one of three entries for Gordon Elliott, along with Teahupoo, who finished a close third having not had a clear run, and Queens Brook, who was third to Honeysuckle in the Mares’ Hurdle.
The Jeremy Scott-trained Dashel Drasher split the Elliott pair at Cheltenham and has been given the option of making a first appearance on Irish soil
Klassical Dream has plundered three Grade 1s at the Punchestown Festival and will be pursuing a third consecutive triumph in this contest. Willie Mullins also has the long-absent Monkfish, Asterion Forlonge and Whatdeawant entered.
Home By The Lee was fifth at Cheltenham after a dreadful error ruined his chances and the Joseph O’Brien-trained gelding would be a major contender if taking his chance, having already been a comfortable winner of the Jack de Bromhead Christmas Hurdle and Lismullen Hurdle this term.
Last year’s runner-up, Ashdale Bob represents local trainer, Jessica Harrington while Nicky Henderson has signed up Champ and Marie’s Rock, the latter a Punchestown Festival victor 12 months ago.
Summerville Boy is an interesting entrant. The former Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner has been nursed back to form by Henry de Bromhead, making his first appearance for the Waterford trainer at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve after a 420-day absence.
He followed that up by finishing a distant second to Teahupoo in the Galmoy Hurdle and then defeating Asterion Forlonge at Thurles last month.
“We were delighted with him to get on the board again. He did it really nicely and Rachael (Blackmore) was really happy with him. He jumped brilliant and all in all, it was really good.
“In fairness, the handicapper has been good to him so he’ll get a handicap entry too but I’d say at the moment, we’re leaning towards this.”
BALLYMORE CHAMPION FOUR-YEAR-OLD HURDLE
The Ballymore Champion Four-Year-Old Hurdle takes place on Saturday, April 29 and is on the cards for up to 18 horses.
Lossiemouth reversed Dublin Racing Festival form with stablemate Gala Marceau in the Triumph Hurdle and the Willie Mullins pair lead the entries. Also included is Cheltenham Juvenile Handicap Hurdle winner Jazzy Matty from the Gordon Elliott string, while Milton Harris is considering the option for Scriptwriter to make the trip from his Wiltshire base.
TUESDAY, APRIL 25 – ADDITIONAL GRADE 1 RACES
There are 19 entries for the PUNCHESTOWN CHAMPION NOVICE HURDLE, with Marine Nationale in pursuit of a third Grade 1 this season, having sprinted clear of Facile Vega in the Supreme at Cheltenham. Barry Connell’s pride and joy is unbeaten in five runs, only beginning his career in a Punchestown bumper on May 28 last year and also scoring at the track in his maiden hurdle.
The first five from Cheltenham have entries, Facile Vega, Diverge, Il Etait Temps and Hunters Yarn part of a strong Willie Mullins contingent that also includes Ballymore one-two, Impaire Et Passe and Gaelic Warrior.
Gordon Elliott has five entries – American Mike, Amir Kabir, Doctor Bravo, Found A Fifty and Irish Point – while Joseph O’Brien’s High Definition is another interesting possibility.
Inthepocket finished fourth in the Supreme and is one of three entries for Henry de Bromhead. Magical Zoe was a fast-finishing runner-up in the Jack de Bromhead Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham while the talented Arctic Bresil hasn’t been seen since failing to fire in Sandown in early January.
“Arctic Bresil was very disappointing in Sandown but he seems good again now,” reveals de Bromhead. “We couldn’t find any obvious reason for that so we backed off him for a few weeks. We’re hoping to run him in Fairyhouse on Sunday and we’ll see what we’ll do with Punchestown then. He has also been given the option of the ALANNA HOMES CHAMPION NOVICE HURDLE and we’re hoping he can put his best foot forward now.
“Inthepocket has both entries as well. He ran really well in Cheltenham and is a lovely horse. Again, we’re keeping all options open for him.
“We were delighted with Magical Zoe in Cheltenham. She is another with a few different options over the next few weeks. The ground will probably be the determining factor in where we choose to go.”
The DOOLEYS INSURANCE GROUP CHAMPION NOVICE CHASE has attracted 25 entries, including Gerri Colombe and Mighty Potter, two of five possible runners for Gordon Elliott. Allegorie De Vassy, Appreciate It, Gaillard Du Mesnil and Sir Gerhard are part of Willie Mullins’ ten-strong representation.
Noel Meade has three entered, with the exciting Thedevilscoachman included, while Mahler Mission would be a notable runner for John McConnell. Complete Unknown is a possible overseas participant for Paul Nicholls.
Amirite, Journey With Me and Life In The Park are the options for Henry de Bromhead.
“Journey With Me won a Grade 3 at Naas last month. He ran very well behind Impervious the time before at Punchestown so it was great to win a graded race with him. There are lots of good races after Cheltenham so he’s got plenty of entries again.
“Robcour have other good novices as well so we’ll see what way that ends up but we are keen to try him over three miles again. He was disappointing last year at Punchestown but we’re hoping that was an end-of-season type of run so we’d be leaning towards this.
“Amirite and Life In The Park are two nice horses that have other options. Life In The Park will get an entry in the EMS Copiers Novice Handicap Chase as well while Amirite might run in the Irish Grand National.”
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 26 – ADDITIONAL GRADE 1 RACES
A whopping 28 horses have been entered for the IRISH MIRROR NOVICE HURDLE. Paul Nicholls could give Albert Bartlett victor Stay Away Fay a chance to complete a notable double with Noel Meade’s runner-up Affordale Fury also involved along with Paul Nolan’s third-placed Sandor Clegane.
Maximilian beat Stay Away Fay on his last run at Doncaster in January and Donald McCain’s seven-year-old would certainly add to proceedings if declared.
Absolute Notions and Three Card Brag are part of a seven-strong Gordon Elliott squad, while Gaelic Warrior and Nick Rockett are two of nine entries for Willie Mullins.
Deep Cave and Harry Des Ongrais could be saddled by Henry de Bromhead.
“We plan to run Deep Cave at Fairyhouse on Sunday. Hopefully that will go well and after that we will see where we go at Punchestown. Harry Des Ongrais ran well at Limerick over Christmas when he finished third and we just decided to put him away for the Spring after that.”
Octogenarian trainer John Kiely and Leaving Cert student/jockey John Gleeson are on target for another Cheltenham-Punchestown double as Champion Bumper hero, A Dream To Share heads a list of 23 entered in the RACE AND STAY AT PUNCHESTOWN INH FLAT RACE.
THURSDAY, APRIL 27 – ADDITIONAL GRADE 1 RACE
Seven horses have been given entries for the BARBERSTOWN CASTLE NOVICE CHASE but there is no arguing with the quality as Cheltenham and Dublin Racing Festival hero El Fabiolo looks to sign off a sensational season in style, with the admirable Dysart Dynamo and Saint Roi also possibly involved for Willie Mullins.
There are two British-trained entrants. Nicky Henderson’s Jonbon was five and a half lengths behind El Fabiolo as runner-up in the Arkle Chase. Notlongtillmay also finished second, giving Laura Morgan a huge thrill when chasing home Stage Star in the Turners.
Banbridge (Joseph O’Brien) and Indiana Jones (Mouse Morris) are other proven graded performers.
FRIDAY, APRIL 28 – ADDITIONAL GRADE 1 RACE
There are 29 entries for the ALANNA HOMES CHAMPION NOVICE HURDLE and though Impaire Et Passe has other entries, it would be a surprise were Willie Mullins’ splendid Ballymore Novices’ winner at Cheltenham not aimed at this target, though his stablemate Gaelic Warrior, who chased him home, could conceivably run in any of the three novice hurdle events during the week.
Champ Kiely, who completed a 1-2-3 for Closutton in the Ballymore, is another possible contestant, while Facile Vega is an interesting inclusion whose participation could possibly see Impaire Et Passe rerouted.
The Henry de Bromhead pair of Arctic Bresil and Inthepocket and Noel Meade’s Affordale Fury are among many included with multiple entries.
SATURDAY, APRIL 29 – ADDITIONAL GRADE 1 RACE
The Punchestown Festival has two Grade 1 races on its concluding day, kicking off with the COOLMORE IRISH EBF MARES’ CHAMPION HURDLE, which has attracted 11 entrants.
Three of those come from Nicky Henderson, including last year’s 1-2, Marie’s Rock and Epatante/.
Love Envoi would be a fantastic addition, as Harry Fry’s daughter of Westerner contributed to a scintillating race and occasion by making Honeysuckle dig so deep to secure Cheltenham glory in her final race. The trainer has signalled his intent to make the trip across the Irish Sea.
Group 1 heroine Princess Zoe is a likely runner for Tony Mullins, although she also holds an entry in Thursday’s LADBROKES CHAMPION STAYERS’ HURDLE, while Willie Mullins’ Echoes In Rain may take up this option rather than the PADDY POWER CHAMPION HURDLE.