The QuinnBet Grand National Trial Increases to €100,000 with Listed Status
Thursday 1st February 2024: Punchestown Racecourse and QuinnBet are pleased to announce that the QuinnBet Grand National Trial will carry a new six figure increased prize fund of €100,000 as the race is promoted to listed status.
The three and a half mile stamina test will be the feature at the home of Irish jump racing on Sunday 18th February. The listed €100,000 QuinnBet Grand National Trial is one of the centre pieces of QuinnBet’s national hunt sponsorship strategy in Ireland and the 2024 running is the second in a three-year deal.
The newly listed contest is, as the name suggests, an ideal fact-finding mission ahead of both the Irish and Grand Nationals. Recent years have proven happy hunting ground for the Gigginstown House Stud and Gordon Elliott team. In 2023 Coco Beach led home a maroon one, two, three with 2022 winner Death Duty in the runner spot followed by stablemate Defi Bleu. The QuinnBet Grand National Trial is firmly established as one of the highlight handicap chases on the Irish calendar with former winners such as the Peter Fahey trained, The Big Dog, progressing on to win both the Munster National and Troytown Chase. Since launching in August of 2017, QuinnBet have grown rapidly in the Irish and UK iGaming sector, providing hugely competitive odds across horse racing and other major sports.
Looking forward to the upcoming QuinnBet Grand National Trial, Niall McPartland, QuinnBet Head of Sponsorship & Commercial said: “QuinnBet is delighted to renew the sponsorship of the Grand National Trial Handicap Chase at Punchestown in 2024 and beyond! This is our second consecutive year to sponsor this race and we are very proud to continue our association with the home of Irish jumps and our sponsorship of Irish racing. The Grand National Trial is considered a key stepping-stone for Irish and UK Grand National contenders. The impressive prize pot of €100,000 will attract a strong field for the 2024 QuinnBet Grand National and we’d like to take this opportunity to thank HRI for their support of the race and Punchestown sponsorship manager Leona Hughes and the team for their assistance in ensuring the success of showcasing our brand at this iconic venue”.
Leona Hughes, Punchestown Sponsorship Manager “It has been a pleasure to work alongside the QuinnBet team across this three-year deal. We are always aiming to improve and progress so the increased prize fund and promotion to listed category is great news and will go a long way to further enhance what is a feature handicap race on the Irish calendar. We had a lovely crowd here for the 2023 renewal so hope to welcome the same again for an afternoon of quality racing with plenty of chase races on offer”.
The QuinnBet Grand National Trial takes place on Sunday 18th February 2024 and is the feature on a high quality seven race card. In addition to the feature, there will be listed and novice chase action along with the highly-anticipated return of the Up The Yard Stable Staff Challenge. The enclosures, restaurants and bars will be buzzing with Race & Dine clients, music, children’s entertainment and more.
Advance ticket prices from just €15. First race 1.35pm (subject to minor change). Visit www.punchestown.com for further information, hospitality and ticket options. For more information
Founded in 2017, QuinnBet is a rapidly growing brand in the iGaming sector, providing a hugely popular, licensed online sports betting and casino platform in the UK and Ireland. Visit their website for more info www.quinnbet.com
For Further information please contact:
Manuela Bologheanu, QuinnBet head of Brand and PR, Manuela.firstname.lastname@example.org
Punchestown Announce Exciting Festival Changes as 2024 Campaign Launches
Punchestown Racecourse today released details of exciting plans and enhancements for the 2024 Punchestown Festival as the home of Irish jump racing prepare to launch ticket, hospitality and general sales for the flagship event running from Tuesday 30th April to Saturday 4th May.
The four-step plan has evolved from customer feedback, business analysis, market research and consultation. The scale of the five-day fixture, the commercial implications, economic impact and stakeholders are all considered when making such worthwhile and strategic alterations.
The Four Key Changes for Punchestown Festival 2024 include:
- Earlier Start Times
The first two days of the 2024 Punchestown Festival will revert to a 2.30pm start from the current time of 3.40pm. Market research shows that around 70% of paying clients would ‘definitely or most probably’ like to see some of the festival days start and finish earlier. This will assist with travel and post racing arrangements.
- Ticket Products and Pricing
Whether it’s a business or a household we fully appreciate that value for money is particularly important now more than ever. Following a full review of ticket pricing and products there will be a price reduction to €30 for the first three days and €40 for Friday and Saturday. As a premium sport and leisure event these prices compare very favourably.
There will be no early bird offers or promotions just one great value ticket offering for advance purchases.
The original Flexi ticket will be replaced by the new Choice Ticket that can be used Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday.
Senior, student, group and family ticket concessions continue and all children under 14 years of age race for free all season. Full value details available on www.punchestown.com
- Refreshed Festival Layout
The festival layout will undergo a full refresh including the removal of the traditional reserved enclosure and the introduction of new racegoer amenities. The objective is to optimise the scope of the enclosures, utilise all available facilities which in turn will improve footfall flow and reduce potential pressure points.
- Enhance & Improve Raceday Experience
This point is neither new nor dynamic as the pursuit of excellent customer experience is an ongoing process. The enhancement of the race day visit will go hand-in-hand with the new layout. The Punchestown demographic is a diverse one with varied tastes and requirements for a memorable customer experience. Alongside our catering and service partners, we aim to deliver a selection of great quality food and beverage options with efficient, friendly service in comfortable surroundings.
Conor O’Neill Punchestown CEO explained the theory behind the proposed plan “Today’s announcement is a very positive one. We greatly appreciate feedback, good and bad as without it we cannot improve the product which we offer. If we’re not improving we’re going backwards, it’s as simple as that and in the current climate that is not something any business can afford to do.
O’Neill continued: “We say it time and time again that people make Punchestown, so it is those very people who have shaped and informed this plan and it is this plan that will help us deliver the best possible Punchestown experience we can to our customers who are the backbone of our business. If it doesn’t work for the customer it ultimately won’t work for Punchestown, so I hope we’ve got the balance right as we look ahead to the 2024 Punchestown Festival.”
The 2024 Punchestown Festival will take place from Tuesday 30th April to Saturday 4th May. Tickets are now on sale. For full information please visit www.punchestown.com
Punchestown Festival 2024 Advance Ticket Prices
Tuesday/Wednesday/ Thursday €30
Friday and Saturday €40
Student and Senior receive a €10 discount on the day with proof of ID
*New product* The Choice Ticket – can be used on either Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday – €35
Saturday Family Ticket for two adults and children €50
Under 14 years of age race for free all year at Punchestown.
Group of 10 people plus receive discounts.
There will be no Flexi ticket available for the 2024 Festival.
*Advance Tickets are those booked and paid for by 10pm the night before the race day.
The later start time of first race at 3.45pm was introduced in 2009 during the economic crisis to accommodate racegoers looking to facilitate at least a half day at work. In recent years there has been an increasing demand from customers from both UK visitors, those who may travel significant journeys and festival goers who wished to make post racing plans to consider earlier start times. Local restaurants and pubs should welcome this news which will increase après racing trade.
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.
Punchestown Returns with The Homecoming Festival
Media Release : They’re coming home! The winners, the heroes and the champions return to the home of Irish jump racing for the grand finale of the season as the 2023 Punchestown Festival returns from Tuesday 25th to Saturday 29th April.
Organisers anticipate an attendance of 110,000 people across the five-day event that attracts visitors from throughout Ireland, the UK and further afield. The main attraction is the prestigious top-class racing that showcases the very best of Irish racing talent including Rachael Blackmore, Willie Mullins , Henry de Bromhead and Paul Townend. Visiting trainers from the UK are an integral feature of the festival with regulars such as Nicky Henderson, Paul Nicholls and new comer Olly Murphy sending horses across. A fully subscribed sponsorship portfolio of 50 event partners delivers an impressive prize fund of over €3.3 million on offer across forty races including twelve grade one contests. The entries for the flagship races are now closed and feature equine superstars including major festival players Galopin Des Champs, Energumene, Bravemansgame and Envoi Allen.
People make Punchestown and key to all great celebrations is the combination of guest list, live entertainment, delicious food, amazing style and this is where the Punchestown Festival delivers in spades. Over 17,000 hospitality clients from 795 companies, 158 of which are UK based, will enjoy delicious seasonal menus prepared and served by 60 chefs, 420 catering staff and 280 bar staff. Catering for this number means large scale and three tonnes of fresh vegetables, over 60 kilos of artisan cheeses and 15,000 portions of petit four desserts and canapes will be enjoyed over the five days. Throughout the pavilions, bars and enclosures the atmosphere builds with live music, street theatre and DJ sets running alongside shopping village and full entertainment programme.
The Bollinger Best Dressed competition is one of Ireland’s most prestigious style contests in the country with finalists chosen across the first four days progressing to the final on ladies day, Friday 28th April. Open to all, the fresh take on race day style encourages racegoers of all ages to be creative, sustainable and brave in a bid to win the ‘money can’t buy’ prize to Paris and The Bollinger Chateuax in Champagne region. An all-star cast featuring some of Ireland’s most popular style names make up The Style Council who will select the winners.
As one of Ireland’s largest events the Punchestown Festival is big business bringing a massive boost to the local economy with over €25 million generated through tourism, leisure and associated spends. However, the event also plays a significant community roll working alongside local GAA clubs and charities to generate funds through volunteer schemes and fundraising initiatives. The Punchestown Kidney Research Charity race, now in its 32 year, has raised close to €2 million and is joined this year by charities Barretstown, Samaritans, Cara Girls Project and Cystic Fibrosis Ireland.
Punchestown CEO Conor O’Neill looked ahead to the event: “The Punchestown Festival is a combination of so many moving parts. A showcase of Irish sporting excellence, one of the largest corporate events in the country, a huge social occasion, an essential fundraiser and a gathering of 100,000 people of all ages, urban and rural who will share in a memorable experience. People make Punchestown and we look forward to welcoming friends old and new to the home of Irish racing for the last week of April”.
For further information please contact:
Shona Dreaper, Punchestown Racecourse
Contact: 045 897704 or email@example.com
No-repro Fee images – https://we.tl/t-RJBYK6NqvW
Social Media Assets – https://we.tl/t-62fmsDzTh0
The 2022 Punchestown Festival takes place from Tuesday 25th to Saturday 29th April.
Tickets from €35pp are available at www.punchestown.com Pre-booking is advised.
Discount group deals are available online.
Concession senior and student tickets are only available to purchase on the day.
Contactless payment available throughout the venue. Cash accepted but visitors are advised to collect cash in advance of their arrival to avoid queues.
Last Thursday riders from the 32nd PKRF Charity Race, that will take place on Saturday 29th April, were invited to Tallaght Hospital where they were met by Dr. Catherine Wall, Renal Physician.
The group visited the Heamo Dialysis Unit and had the opportunity to chat with some of the patients there. They got to see and hear about life on dialysis and the restrictions and limitations that go with that. This first hand experience was an amazing insight to how their fundraising efforts are making a huge difference.
James Nolan, Chairman, Punchestown Kidney Research Fund spoke about his own experience on dialysis, receiving the Gift of Life from his sister Catherine and on to riding in the PKRF Charity race at Punchestown. Here is a brief summary of what PKRF Charity Race organiser James Nolan and his team have managed to achieve in the past 18 months:
- Continued research into Polycystic Kidney Disease in partnership with the Irish Nephrology Society under the guidance of The Irish Research Council.
2. Support Art Therapy programs for Dialysis Patients in Tallaght & Waterford Dialysis Units.
3. Support Sports Program for Dialysis & Transplant Patients.
4. Organised trips to Lourdes for Dialysis patients.
In 2022, the PKRF partnered with the Irish Kidney Association to set up a Pilot Peer Support Programme to help kidney patients and their families. This support network is for 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 enables people to reach out and connect with a trained volunteer to discuss their concerns about dialysis and transplantation.
Last year also saw the PKRF commence the James Tracy/PKRF Beam exercise & well-being programme for all kidney patients in Ireland. Typically physical activity levels for kidney patients can be low with high levels of sedentary behaviour. The James Tracy/PKRF program enables kidney patients to access online, live and on-demand exercise classes. These classes can help improve the physical and emotional well-being of kidney patients as well as providing access to educational health videos and renal dietary advice which is so important for kidney patients.
The James Tracy/PKRF programme is suitable for patients at all stages of kidney disease including pre-dialysis, dialysis as well as transplant and is free for all kidney patients to use. We know this program will have an immediate positive effect of the lives of all kidney patients.
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.
See you at Punchestown. For further information please visit www.pkrf.ie
Follow on Instagram – @punchestownpkrf
The members-only bookmaker makes Punchestown Festival debut, and includes a shot at a €100k bonus for the winner.
Fitzwilliam Sports announce sponsorship of the €100,000 Fitzwilliam Sports Handicap Hurdle on the final day of the Punchestown Festival, Saturday, April 29.
The brand-new members-only bookmaker is also putting up a €100,000 bonus for the winner of this race, should they go on to win the 2023 Galway Hurdle.
Media Release: As anticipation builds ahead of the 2023 Punchestown Festival, the home of Irish jump racing today announced Fitzwilliam Sports as an exciting addition to the sponsorship line-up ahead of this year’s jump racing showcase, which takes place from Tuesday, April 25 to Saturday, April 29.
The €100,000 Fitzwilliam Sports Handicap Hurdle, over two miles and three furlongs, takes place on the concluding day of the Punchestown Festival and the 2022/23 Irish National Hunt season. This year for the first time, the race will have an additional €100,000 bonus for the winner should they go on to win the Galway Hurdle at the 2023 Galway Festival.
The Grade B contest has proven to be another fruitful race for Willie Mullins, who will this year be bidding for his fifth success in six years in the race. Long-time Punchestown Festival supporter Phillip Hobbs won the 2022 renewal with Camprond, ridden to victory by Aidan Coleman for owner JP McManus.
Fitzwilliam Sports is a brand-new members-only bookmaker based in Dublin, offering discreet, dependable and customer-focussed services to its clients. Fitzwilliam Sports don’t offer casinos, virtuals or slot machines, just proper bookmaking that will lay a decent bet at a fair price. Membership with Fitzwilliam Sports is capped to a certain number of clients, ensuring high-quality friendly service is always provided.
John Sheil, Trading Director at Fitzwilliam Sports, is no stranger to Punchestown and explains the importance of their support at the festival: “When we established Fitzwilliam Sports, we had a very clear concept of what we wanted to achieve; to lay decent bets at fair prices and to provide a high-quality service to our clients. As one of Ireland’s leading national-hunt racetracks, the parallels with Punchestown are obvious. The Punchestown team always delivers a fantastic festival, with exceptional racing on the track and world-class customer service off the track. Like us, they understand their customer’s needs and make every effort to ensure those needs are met and exceeded. We also wanted to add some extra incentive for the first year of our sponsorship, so we are delighted to offer a €100,000 bonus to the winner of this race, should they go on to win the 2023 Galway Hurdle. With many of our team involved in racehorse ownership themselves, we understand the importance of offering good prize money and added bonuses, so we’re really excited about this initiative. We are delighted to partner with Punchestown and look forward to welcoming clients and racing fans to Punchestown on Saturday, April 29.”
Janet Creighton, Punchestown Sponsorship Team, welcomed the announcement: “Paul Byrne and his team at Fitzwilliam Sports are an ideal fit as exclusive festival Saturday bookmaking partner. Fitzwilliam Sports speak our language when it comes to tailored customer service and elevated client experience. When you contact Punchestown you speak with someone who knows the place and product inside out and wants to optimise customer experience. Fitzwilliam Sports are on the same page and we look forward to developing this partnership”.
The Punchestown Festival takes place from Tuesday 25th to Saturday 29th April 2023. For full event info, tickets and hospitality package availability please visit www.punchestown.com
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The Glen of the Downs showroom hosts an extensive display of outdoor furniture, wooden structures for all needs, greenhouses, water features, and more. Additionally, the newly opened shop offers coffee, snacks, and a multitude of garden accessories, making your visit an enjoyable and relaxing experience.
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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.
OutdoorLiving.ie is the ultimate destination for all your outdoor needs in Ireland. With a rich family history, extensive product range, expert knowledge, and unparalleled shopping experience, OutdoorLiving.ie is committed to helping you create the outdoor space of your dreams. Visit one of their showrooms or shop online to discover why OutdoorLiving.ie is the best choice for your outdoor projects.
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.