TIME TO DRESS UP
Finally, the excuse to get dressed up that we’ve all been waiting for is almost upon us! ‘The Great Comeback Festival of 2022’, The Punchestown Festival returns from Tuesday 26th to Saturday 30th of April with the Bollinger Best Dressed Lady event taking place over the first four days. Stylish ladies and fashionistas from all across the country are planning their outfits now, in the hope of winning the much-coveted Bollinger Best Dressed Lady title and the amazing ‘money can’t buy’ prize that it comes with.
The Bollinger Best Dressed Lady will win a VIP trip for two to visit the exclusive Bollinger Estate in France where you and your guest will be given a private tour of the estate and guided tasting opportunities. Furthermore, this trip of a lifetime also includes Michelin star dining, chauffeur transfers, five-star accommodation and more.
The magnificent Bollinger Garden in The Style Quarter will be the epicentre of all things fashion at The Punchestown Festival. From Tuesday to Friday style scouts will be tasked with finding the most stylish attendees at the racecourse. Finalists will be selected each day and daily winners will be presented with Bollinger and Bellamiante prizes and goodie bags. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday’s winners will be fast-tracked to the grand final on Ladies Day, Friday 29th.
Ladies who are keen to compete are advised to come along to the races early and make tracks to The Bollinger Garden in The Style Quarter. Shona Dreaper, Communications Manager at Punchestown Racecourse commented “The Style Quarter is the epicentre for all things fashion during the festival. The Bollinger Champagne Lounge and Garden will play host to the daily selections and grand final on Friday. Ladies are advised to arrive from 1pm, enjoy a stroll through the parade ring enclosure, make their way through the festival shopping venue on Osprey Avenue and on to the reserved enclosure for great views of the racing, live music, wonderful atmosphere and of course, style! It’s great to be back and we look forward to welcoming everyone to Punchestown”.
The Punchestown Festival runs from Tuesday 26th to Saturday 30th April. Race & Dine Hospitality packages from €149pp. Tickets from just €30 with group concessions available. Bundled transfers, accommodation and event packages are available.
There’s No Place Like Home – Ruby Walsh Joins the Punchestown Team
Champion Ruby Walsh To Champion Punchestown
As the much anticipated 2022 Punchestown Festival approaches the racecourse today announced Ruby Walsh as Punchestown Brand Champion in a move that will see the 12 time champion jockey officially champion the home of Irish jump racing.
The Ruby Walsh story is one that has roots in Punchestown racecourse itself, a place that is very special to Ireland’s winning most national hunt jockey of all time. Born and raised only a few miles as the crow flies from the famous venue, Punchestown has been the stage for many highlights of Walsh’s illustrious career. Now a new chapter begins. In addition to a history-making career between the rails the 42-year old has successfully transitioned to broadcast pundit, presenter and columnist. For Walsh Punchestown is personal. His new role at the home of Irish jump racing extends beyond that of brand ambassador, consultant, expert or advisor. Walsh will work alongside the Punchestown team as they continue to improve, enhance and safeguard the future of the iconic racecourse.
Looking forward to embracing the role Walsh said “For me Punchestown is home and there’s no where like home. It’s is such a special place for me and my family. It’s always been a massive part of my life ever since I was a kid riding ponies and now I bring my own girls there for pony camp. From the festival in spring to the launch of the national hunt proper in the autumn I always seem to be at Punchestown whatever the season. This is more than a passion project and I will focus on areas that I consider to be key to the quality and appeal of racing such as attracting more UK runners to the festival and throughout the season. It’s a fantastic track with brilliant prize money and great hospitality for connections.”
Walsh added: “In 2023 Punchestown celebrates 200 years. Obviously whilst I won’t be around to see it I’d like to make a contribution and play my part in safe guarding the home of Irish jump racing for another 200 years!”
Conor O’Neill Punchestown CEO welcomed Walsh by saying: “Ruby has proven himself to be as capable on the ground as in the saddle when it comes to strategy, policy and the general awareness of the realities of balancing the commerciality of racing as a product whilst respecting the tradition and heritage of the game and the contribution of those who invest in it. With an incredible network of contacts and a career that has spanned 24 years, 213 grade one wins, 12 jockey championships and success in Ireland, the UK, Japan, Australia, France and the United States qualifies Ruby as somewhat of an expert in our eyes!”
The Walsh family is intrinsically linked to Punchestown. The only track in Ireland to showcase the traditional cross-country style racing, the track features the synonymous ‘Ruby’s Double’ a grass double bank which was erected in 1995 by the Moran Family of Pennsylvania in memory of their friend Ruby Walsh senior, father of Ted. The Morans of course owned 2000 Grand National and Irish National hero Papillon trained by Ted and ridden by Ruby. Both Ruby’s sister, top amateur Katie, and sister-in-law Nina Carberry decided to hang up their boots with winning rides at the 2018 Punchestown Festival.
Call it destiny, luck or fate but Walsh’s first win at Punchestown came by default when as a wetbehind the ears 17-year-old amateur he was in the weighroom preparing for home. Enda Bolger had just ridden in the champion bumper but was standing down for the rest of the day. As Bolger walked through the weighroom he tossed a set of colours to Walsh and said “you ride that in the next”. The set of colours were the famous plain navy of Sue and John Magnier, the next was the champion Hunters Chase and ‘that’ was Dixon Varner. Walsh won. The die was cast.
Walsh himself would say that many of his memorable career moments came at Punchestown. He is the winning most jockey in what is now the Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup and the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle with six wins in each. Walsh’s gold cup story begins at the very start. Upgraded from a handicap, 1999 was the inaugural running of the Grade 1 Punchestown Gold Cup that we know today. The horse was Imperial Call who in 1996 became the first Irish trained horse to win the Cheltenham Gold cup after a ten-year drought. Imperial Calls career was interrupted by injury but as a ten-year-old now trained by Ray Hurley with a 19-year-old Ruby Walsh on his back Imperial Call returned to the winners enclosure and entered the history books as the first winner of the Punchetsown Gold Cup. The following year an even better tale comes to fruition. Undoubtedly, the most remarkable season in the Walsh family’s racing history to date. Ruby and his father Ted team up to win the Aintree Grand National with Papillion. The show rolls on to the to Easter at Fairyhouse – another national in the bag this time with Commanche Court. Fast forward a couple of weeks to Punchestown and the Dermot Desmond owned ‘Commanche’ steps up to grade 1 glory in the Punchestown Gold Cup. At 20 years of age Ruby Walsh has exceeded and excelled.
Soon after Walsh was balancing a hugely successful arrangement as first rider for both Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls. The Walsh-Nicholls partnership certainly benefited Punchestown whilst reaping rewards for the duo and to this day Neptune Collonge is the only back to back winner of the Punchestown Gold Cup. Two of Walshs three Punchestown champion wins came from the Nicholls stable with the quirky Twist Magic (2008) and the brilliant Master Minded (2009).
The Punchestown champion hurdle has been the stage for some of Walsh’s most memorable Punchestown moments. The brilliant Hurricane Fly dominated the number one spot for four consecutive years and whilst Walsh missed out on the 2010 win due to injury it was a copy and paste scenario in 2011, ‘12 and ‘13. Vroum Vroum Mag and the wonderful Faugheen delivered the goods in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
And so to 2019. Rumours rumbled but there was no farewell tour or fanfare. A gold cup win and a wave as he crossed the line on Kemboy for longtime boss Willie Mullins. Walsh family members with emotion etched all over their faces started to gather in the parade ring and the reality began to sink in. Tears ran down Ted seniors face. Then, during his post-race interview over the racecourse PA system Walsh called it a day. Low key, on his own terms, at his favourite track surrounded by family and friends. Class.
Looking ahead to the future Ruby’s first assignment will be at Aintree. A word of advice to winning connections – plan ahead for a trip to Punchestown! One thing is sure, what Ruby Walsh applies himself to he succeeds at through dedication, strategic thinking and hard work and Punchestown will continue to be a beneficiary of this sporting icon.
The 2022 Punchestown Festival takes place from Tuesday 26th to Saturday 30th April. For full event details and bookings please visit www.punchestown.com
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Tuesday 22nd March 2022 – Barberstown Castle was today unveiled as a major player on the Irish hotel and sporting hospitality scene with the announcement of a dual racecourse sponsorship that will see the county Kildare venue feature at both Punchestown, the home of Irish jump racing and The Curragh, home of Irish Flat racing.
The newly sponsored €125,000 Grade 1 Barberstown Castle Novice two mile chase is one of the features on Punchestown Festival Thursday. The race is arguably one of the most prestigious of its category on the calendar with an all-star line-up of previous winners including Douvan, Moscow Flyer, Un De Sceaux, War Of Attrition, Chacun Pour Soi and Big Zeb. British trainers have fared well in this contest with Tom George’s Gods Own and the Philip Hobbs trained Captain Chris both landing the spoils. This feature sponsorship is part of a multi-year accommodation partner arrangement at the famous jump season grand finale.
Meanwhile, across the county at flat racing headquarters, Barberstown Castle will become an official hotel partner of the racecourse in an overall package that includes the sponsorship of the five race ‘Barberstown Castle Series’. The first leg of this initiative kicks off on the opening day of the flat season, this Saturday 26th March and takes in races at some of the major classic weekends before the finale on 23rd October.
Amanda Torrens, the new owner of Barberstown Castle who also has enjoyed success as a racehorse owner commented on the announcement: “Our vision is clear, we wish to establish Barberstown Castle as the first choice for the racing community, horse tourism and bloodstock industry. We embrace the wonderful opportunity to partner with both the home of Irish jump and flat racing. Barberstown Castle is open for business and we look forward to welcoming the racing family here. It is wonderful to be in a position to combine two of my passions, racing and Barberstown in this exciting venture”.
Highly regarded in the hotel industry, Barberstown Castle’s Managing Director Ted Robinson welcomed the news: “ These are exciting times at Barberstown Castle because with racing power houses like The Curragh and Punchestown preparing to launch their seasons we here at the hotel are preparing to relaunch and rebuild this wonderful historic venue. We have 60 bedrooms, are located 30 minutes from Dublin airport, 20 minutes from both racecourses. We are situated at the gateway to the thoroughbred county and Hidden Heartlands and we are excited for what this venture will bring.
Punchestown’s Conor O’Neill commented: “This partnership is the ideal collaboration in the sense that both the Barberstown Castle and Punchestown teams share the ethos that the racing experience does not begin and end at the racecourse. Indeed, it is the hospitality, value, quality of food and accommodation and the money can’t buy aspect of genuine friendliness that sets the experience apart and makes visitors return again and again. This is why the whole package needs to work. There is no more powerful marketing tool than the word of mouth and we look forward to working with Amanda, Ted and the Barberstown team to achieve this joint ambition. O’Neill added “We’d like to take this opportunity to thank outgoing sponsor Ryanair who have transported so many of our overseas clients to the festival and will continue to do so before their onward journey to our hotel partners like Barberstown Castle!”
Evan Arkwright, Curragh Racing and Sponsorship Manager said,“We are delighted that Amanda Torrens and her team at Barberstown Castle have joined our portfolio of sponsors and look forward to developing a long and successful partnership with particular emphasis to work with them on a variety of initiatives to raise the profile of the hotel and to ensure the Castle is one of the premier destinations for our many overseas visitors. The race series will be an exciting addition to our season and it is very positive that stable staff will be acknowledged for their hard work and dedication
The Barberstown Castle Series will kick off this Saturday, 26th March, followed by races taking place during the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Festival, Juddmonte Irish Oaks Weekend and Goffs Million Race Day, while the finale of the series will feature on Sunday 23rd October.
The winning owner, trainer and jockey of all five races will win a voucher to include an overnight stay in the hotel, while the trainers of the first four horses in each race will accumulate points with the highest point scorer winning a cash prize to be donated to the charity of their choice.
The Grade 1 Barberstown Castle Novice Champion Chase will take place on Thursday 28th April on day three of the 2022 Punchestown Festival.
Osprey Hotel Continue Punchestown Festival Partnership and Entertainment Programme
With just eight weeks to go to the 2020 Punchestown Festival the racecourse team are excited to continue our association with official accommodation partner Osprey Hotel. Launched at the 2019 festival, the centre piece of the partnership, Osprey Avenue, is back for the 2020 event taking place from Tuesday 28th April to Saturday 2nd May. Osprey Avenue is a boutique shopping venue with a wonderful selection of fashion, art, millinery and accessories on offer across all five days of the event.
Further to the success of the partnership last year Osprey Hotel are pulling out all the stops and providing a fantastic week of hospitality and entertainment both in advance of and after racing each day at the four star venue located in Devoy Quarter, Naas. Back for 2020 is the very appetising Bottomless Bubbles Brunch hosted in the stylish Herald & Devoy restaurant. This package is priced at €32 per person and can be pre-booked with the hotel or via eventbrite. There will be two sittings at 11.30am and 1.30pm on Thursday, Friday & Saturday with a complimentary shuttle bus service to solve any transport queries.
On Tuesday through to Friday from 12.30pm they will have well known tipsters on hand to provide their expert opinions on all the weeks racing, Tuesday and Wednesday will see Katie Walsh and top jockey Robert ‘Puppy’ Power along with Boylesports Leon Blanche will be in Osprey Bar on Thursday and Friday.
Perhaps the highlight of Osprey Hotel’s action packed entertainment programme will take place on Friday 1st May when the Ultimate Festival Finale Party will entertain a full house of festival goers. Guest D.J’s and the ever popular Manilla Strings will entertain in the lobby while the ticket only Punchestown Party featuring the massively well known Springbreak, fresh from supporting Cher in Belfast will take place in the brand new Osprey ballroom.
The ballroom has recently underwent a massive refurbishment with an investment of €800k which will only add to the atmosphere.
Looking forward to an exciting festival week Osprey Sales and Marketing Manager Catherine Bunn said “We are so thrilled to be back with Osprey Avenue and a preferred sponsor with Punchestown again for 2020, it really was a no brainer on our part following the success of last year. Our on-course presence with Osprey Avenue together with pre and post racing entertainment means Osprey will be your one stop Festival venue. The fact we have just finished a refurbishment of our ballroom with an investment of €800K will really add to the finale night, if that’s even possible. Adding a well-known band such as Springbreak who have a fantastic following already to the mix is an added bonus. I hope everyone is ready for a fun packed few days of racing, music, delicious food and fun party atmosphere!”
Janet Creighton, Punchestown Commercial Manager welcomed Osprey Hotel “We look forward to welcoming around 130,000 visitors to Punchestown in just eight weeks time and whilst we can do our best to ensure they have a great day at the track it is our hotel partners that play an intrinsic role by providing top class hospitality before and after racing. Osprey Hotel is a wonderful venue located just minutes from Punchestown and their festival entertainment programme is packed to the brim. Having toured the Osprey Spa it is somewhere I will definitely be visiting for a treat after a hectic festival week!”
For full details of the Osprey Hotel Festival schedule please visit https://www.ospreyhotel.ie/events/punchestown-festival or call +353 (0)45 881111. The Punchestown Festival takes place from Tuesday 28th April to Saturday 2nd May
Bollinger, sponsor of the Best Dressed Competition at the Punchestown Festival in April has announced a most exciting change of format to the high-profile event for 2020. The Bollinger Best Dressed Competition will not only include the most fashionable ladies from all across the country this year but also the most stylish gents will now compete for the much-coveted title and amazing prizes too!
The Punchestown Festival, the social and sporting highlight of the Irish calendar takes place from Tuesday 28th of April until Saturday, May 2nd. The search for the best dressed ladies and gentlemen will be held over the first four days of the festival. Each day style scouts will be tasked with finding the most stylish attendees and selecting finalists, from which a daily winner will be chosen to progress to the grand final on Ladies’ Day, held on Friday, May 2nd.
The decision to widen the format of the competition to include the thousands of men in attendance at the festival was an obvious one according to organisers. Michelle O’Sullivan, Champagne Bollinger said “It’s a very exciting year, with the highly anticipated release of the new Bond movie in April, which celebrates 25 years of James Bond. Bollinger’s association with the world’s most famous spy is synonymous and we felt it was an appropriate fit to celebrate this with a new improved format at Punchestown. Champagne Bollinger, distinctive, elegant and stylish – reminiscent of the famous special agent and the qualities that our judges will be looking for in this year’s Punchestown winner.”
Shona Dreaper, Punchestown Racecourse commented “When it comes to high profile sporting events Punchestown bucks the demographic trend with the number of ladies and gents in attendance pretty much equal and so it’s time for the guys to enter the style stage! It is a festival in the truest sense and race goers really enjoy the opportunity to dress for the occasion. As you stroll through the enclosures the sharp tailoring and attention to detail by the gents certainly merits strong contention for the coveted Bollinger Best Dressed Title. Afterall, Bollinger is the champagne of choice for the ultimate male style icon James Bond. It will be interesting to see how the judges handle it as there can only be one Bollinger Best Dressed Winner! One thing’s for certain, the judges will have their work cut out for them.”
The Punchestown Festival takes place from Tuesday 28th of April to Saturday 2nd of May. The action-packed, fun-filled, style showcase attracts over 125,000 people to the Co. Kildare venue with packages ranging from high-end hospitality to great value admission only tickets available at www.punchestown.com or by calling +353 (0)45 897704. Prices start from as little as €30pp with concessions for groups, seniors and students. The famous Punchestown hospitality package range is available from just €129pp.
Punchestown racecourse today (21st January 2020) made the major announcement that Ballymore have returned as title sponsors of the final day of Ireland’s most prestigious jump racing festival.
The Ballymore Festival Family day will take place on Saturday 2nd May 2020 and concludes not only the Punchestown Festival but the Irish jump racing season itself. The €100,000 Grade 1 Ballymore Champion Four Year Old Hurdle is the centre piece of a top quality seven race card.
The Ballymore Festival Family Day has rapidly become one of the best attended fixtures on the Irish racing calendar attracting a massive crowd of 37,206 at the 2019 event. As the name suggests, the focus of the day is on community, introducing families to Punchestown and opening the world of horse racing to children. A full programme of activities, games and entertainment will be on offer for families with a dedicated indoor Junior Jockey Fun Club available throughout the day.
Ballymore co-founders Sean and Bernardine Mulryan have been long-time supporters of Punchestown. In fact, in 2008 when the Saturday was first integrated into the festival proper, Ballymore were an integral part of the initiative backing the title race of the day. Following a hiatus from horse racing, the award winning international property group returned to the sponsorship ranks in 2017 when sponsoring the valuable Ballymore Handicap Hurdle before taking the opportunity to back the family day concept. The Mulryan’s return to horse racing has been a fortuitous one and could hardly have gone better when their own horse City Island trained by Martin Brassil landed the Ballymore Novices Hurdle at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival.
Sean Mulryan, Ballymore Chairman & CEO looks forward to Ballymore Festival Family Day saying “The Punchestown Festival is a unique sporting experience and Punchestown itself is special for myself and my family. We have been involved for decades with Punchestown and the opportunity to return to sponsor the family day gives me great pride. I’m delighted to see it go from strength to strength.”
Conor O’Neill Punchestown CEO added “We always say that Punchestown is personal. That goes for the staff, customers, sponsors, locals and members of the racing industry. Everybody who visits Punchestown or does business here should feel like they are part of the place. We are so fortunate that Sean and Bernardine Mulryan share that view and have such special regard for Punchestown. They have been incredible supporters down the years through thick and thin. They are true racing and community people. The Ballymore Festival Family Day gives us the opportunity to introduce this unique event and venue to many families that may be new to the area but also to strengthen the sense of community for all those locals who have been enjoying Punchestown for years. To the Mulryans and Ballymore we say thank you”.
The 2020 Punchestown Festival takes place from Tuesday 28th April to Saturday 2nd May and expects to attract crowds in excess of 125,000 over the five days. Billed as the highlight and grand finale of Irish jump racing the Punchestown Festival boasts 12 Grade one races and a prize fund of over €3.2 million attracting the best of Irish and British racing talent. The Punchestown Festival is a massive contributor to the local economy generating over €60 million. With 45 event sponsors, over 17,000 corporate hospitality guests and a huge influx of UK based racing fans Punchestown is a social, sporting and commercial flagship event on the Irish calendar each year.