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Mullins six “all intended runners” in the Unibet Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown this weekend

A glittering array of talent looks set to line up in the inaugural Grade 1 hurdle of the season, with champion trainer Willie Mullins confirming that all six of his entrants “are intended runners” in Sunday’s Grade 1 Unibet Morgiana Hurdle (in memory of Michael Rafferty @AnalogsDaughtr), the feature of Punchestown’s weekend Winter Festival.

That provides the mouth-watering prospect of Closutton’s highly-touted Triumph Hurdle winner, Vauban taking on his Ballymore Novice Hurdle-winning comrade Sir Gerhard in the opening Grade 1 hurdle of the season. Mullins could also unleash the Punchestown Grade 1 Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle winner State Man, with the trio all representing different owners.

As well as the young gun Vauban, the only four-year-old in the field, Rich Ricci may have his famous pink and lime green spotted colours carried by previous Unibet Morgiana Hurdle winners Saldier and Sharjah, the latter triumphing here in 2018 and 2021 and his stablemate having scored in 2019. The undoubtedly classy Vauban is embarking on a Champion Hurdle path that few Triumph Hurdle winners can navigate but Sunday’s Punchestown highlight is the obvious starting point. “We are always well represented in the Unibet Morgiana Hurdle because it comes at a perfect time in the calendar for our horses,” Mullins said. “It allows us to go on to Christmas and continue the season from there then before we come back to Punchestown in April.”

Of his runners, Mullins added: “At this stage, all six are intended runners. Vauban is an exciting prospect after his win in the Triumph Hurdle last year but it is difficult for four-year-olds to win this race. I said if we’re going to make a Champion Hurdle horse out of him then let him take on good horses in the Morgiana.

“I’m going back over hurdles with Saldier for the first time in a while, when he disappointed at Gowran Park last February and he’s bound to be a little ring rusty. “Like Saldier, Sharjah won the race before and I think the ground is going to suit him so we’re looking forward to getting his season going after missing the spring following his fourth Matheson at Leopardstown. “Sir Gerhard has been doing things right at home. I’m very happy with him, while State Man is a horse that’s been improving all through last season. If he keeps improving, he’s the right age to make it into the Champion Hurdle field.”

The Mullins sextet is completed by Echoes In Rain, herself a course and distance winner at Peerless Punchestown, having won the 2021 Grade 1 eCOMM Merchant Solutions Champion Novice Hurdle. “Echoes In Rain runs well around Punchestown. The two miles here might be a little sharp for her,” the champion trainer concluded.

The Unibet Morgiana Hurdle takes place on Sunday 20th November. Advance booking tickets with €5pp discount and free racecard are on sale until the day before your selected race meeting. There will be live music, bus transfers after racing, free kids entertainment and delicious food options across the weekend. Visit www.punchestown.com/fixtures/

Punchestown racecourse are delighted to welcome Kildare based landscaping firm Oak Lodge to the sponsorship panel ahead of the 2022 Punchestown Winter Festival on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th November.

The Oak Lodge Landscapes Craddockstown Novice Chase takes centre stage on the opening day of the winter feature at the home of Irish jump racing. The grade two contest over two miles holds a €36,500 prize fund and has been a happy hunting ground for high quality champion chase contenders. Previous winners include the Alan & Ann Pott’s owned top class duo Sizing John and Sizing Europe with the great Moscow Flyer featuring even further back in the roll of honour.

Whilst Waterford trainer Henry de Bromhead has an excellent strike rate in the Oak Lodge Landscape Chase, it is Gordon Elliott who will bid for a hat trick of wins having landed the spoils with Felix Desjy and Reviere D’etel in 2020 and 2021.

The Oak Lodge Landscape connection is a local one with founders and directors Cathal and Samantha Kavanagh based in the Naas area. Oak Lodge was established over 20 years ago and the family run firm employs five team members with this number fluctuating greatly during the busy summer months. Originally domestic and private projects accounted for a majority of the business however, as owner Cathal Kavanagh explains, economics intervened: “During the financial crash people’s priorities changed and gardens were no longer high up on the list of household spending. Like many businesses we had to adapt to survive and ever since our company has strived in the commercial landscape maintenance market. We have national retail clients who’s properties we manage in addition to business parks and commercial settings alongside our domestic services”.

Offering some background to today’s sponsorship announcement Kavanagh continued: “I have been racing at Punchestown for as long as I can remember. It is a place that is close to us both literally and in the sense that we’ve enjoyed many great day’s there through the years. Getting involved and sponsoring was something I’ve always intended to do and now we’ve made it happen. We look forward to enjoying a Punchestown race day from a different angle when the Oak Lodge Landscapes Chase gets underway”.

Punchestown Sponsorship Manager Leona Hughes welcomed the Oak Lodge Landscapes news: “Cathal, Samantha and the Oak Lodge team are a wonderful addition to the Punchestown sponsorship profile and we look forward to partnering with them as they step into a sponsorship role here. Local business and community is a fundamental part of the Punchestown ethos and it is all the more special when the people involved have a personal connection to this special place. We thank Oak Lodge Landscapes for the wonderful support and look forward to working alongside them to provide a memorable Punchestown experience”.

The Punchestown Winter Festival takes place on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th November. In addition to the grade one Unibet Morgiana Hurdle and the grade two Oak Lodge Landscapes Craddockstown Chase there is an excellent support card of listed, graded and cross country action on offer across the two days. Racegoers of all ages are catered for with complimentary children’s play area for families however, those that may have outgrown the face painting stage can enjoy delicious dining, live music and bus transfers to Naas after racing. With a keen focus on value, the home of Irish jump racing is offering discounts and complimentary race cards for those who book in advance on www.punchestown.com

The first race goes to post approx 12 noon Saturday and 11.45 Sunday. gates and public dining venues open one and a half hours before racing.

**ENDS**

For further information please contact:

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

 

 

 

 

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

Young trainer Gearoid O’Loughlin is gearing up for a potentially big day at Punchestown on Sunday where he will field strong contenders for both of the day’s main events with Space Cadet set to represent him in the featured €100,000 BoyleSports Grand National Trial Handicap Chase. 

Space Cadet is among 23 entries for the three and a half mile contest in which he finished fourth two years ago. The ten-year-old pulled up in the Welsh National last time but would be among the leading contenders if returning to the form of his fine fourth in the Troytown Chase at Navan in November. 

“Space Cadet is in great form. He didn’t travel over that well to Chepstow so we are happy to put a line through that Welsh National run and we’re looking forward to Sunday. He’s going to have a lovely weight and he’s run well in the race before and this is the sort of test that should bring out the best in him,” said the trainer. 

Gordon Elliott has won this race for the last two years and he has a team of eight engaged this time around with his entry headed by the Paddy Power Chase hero Roaring Bull and the impressive Cork winner Minella Till Dawn. 

Top weight in Sunday’s €100,000 contest is the 2018 Aintree Grand National runner-up Pleasant Company, while the in form trainer James Nash could be represented by Forza Milan. 

O’Loughlin, who sent his first winner 13 months ago and runs owner Chris Jones’s pre-training base at Killeen Glebe nearing Dunsany in Co Meath, also hopes to field the exciting Cedarwood Road in Sunday’s Listed I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Novice Hurdle for which eleven horses have been entered. 

Cedarwood Road emerged as one of this season’s most exciting novices when winning a maiden hurdle at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival by an impressive eleven lengths. 

“He’s in good form and worked well this morning so all being well he will run on Sunday. For us it’s great to have a horse like him in the yard. It’s what you get up for in the morning and there’s a great buzz around the yard at the moment as he’s a horse we really like. This is going to be step up in class for him but we’re really looking forward to running him,” commented O’Loughlin. 

Other entries for this race including the promising Front View. Joseph O’Brien’s charge won a bumper at last season’s Punchestown Festival and chased home Envoi Allen at Down Royal on his first run of the season before defeating the high class Uhtred in a Cork maiden hurdle in November. The Jessica Harrington-trained Exit Poll may also make the step up in class following his Fairyhouse success recently. 

Cheltenham Festival clues will be on offer in the opening P.P. Hogan Memorial Cross Country Chase in which Enda Bolger has included specialists in this sphere Josies Orders and Yanworth.

A seven race card on Sunday is due to start at 1.45pm and the ground at Punchestown is currently described as yielding. 
 

 

CLICK HERE FOR FULL LIST OF ENTRIES FOR SUNDAY

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The Grade 1 winning Abacadabras heads the entries for Sunday’s Grade 2 Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Hurdle at Punchestown as Gordon Elliott looks to add another high class novice race to his tally this season.

Elliott holds a strong hand at the five-day entry stage for Punchestown’s renowned Supreme Novices Hurdle trial with very well regarded Andy Dufresne, Easywork and Run Wild Fred featuring among a dozen acceptors for the €44,500 contest. 

Felix Desjy triumphed in the race 12-months ago for Elliott and Sean Flanagan and the Meath based trainer is hopeful of snaring top honours again on Sunday.

“Both Easywork and Andy Dufresne ran over two and a half miles last time but they could easily come back in trip,” Elliott suggested on Tuesday. 

“I was impressed with Easywork at Limerick and he looks quite exciting. Andy Dufresne got beaten by a very good horse of Paul Nolan’s last time and he’s been in good shape since then. The way he jumps and travels two miles should be no problem for him.

“We have also given Abacadabras an entry and we’ll just see how the horses come through their work this week and make a decision on who goes where,” Elliott added.

Willie Mullins has a fantastic record in the Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Hurdle with household names such as Vautour, Douvan, Min and Getabird among his recent winners and the champion trainer has included Blackbow, Janidil and Tiger Tap Tap in this renewal. 

Joseph O’Brien has a couple of intriguing entries for the Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Hurdle with the dual course and distance winner Anything Will Do a possible runner alongside stable companion Meticulous who carries the colours of Michael Tabor and has yet to make his hurdling debut. 

Impressive Navan maiden hurdle winner Captain Guinness may attempt to give Henry de Bromhead a first win in this race since Mister Watzisname scored in 2008. 

The Cheltenham Festival winning City Island is a notable name on the list of entries for the Grade 3 Killiney Novice Chase on Sunday.

Martin Brassil’s stable star pulled up following a mistake on his chasing debut at Leopardstown over Christmas but is in line for a quick reappearance at Punchestown this weekend. 

Willie Mullins’ entries are the recent winners Bapaume and Carefully Selected while Dallas Des Pictons looks set to spearhead Gordon Elliott’s challenge on the race. 

“Dallas Des Pistons has had a light season so far but he began to thrive this time last year and I’m looking forward to seeing him back in the novice chase this weekend,” Elliott said. 

 

 

CLICK HERE FOR FULL LIST OF ENTRIES FOR SUNDAY