We are delighted to introduce a new initiative at Punchestown called The Full Circle Series. In an age of super yards and fierce competition, this series provides an great opportunity for the horses in the competitive 1 – 130 category and their respective connections to compete for a big prize at a feature festival.
Aimed at two and a half mile handicap hurdlers rated in the region of 130, the series will consist of ten qualifiers, five UK and five in Ireland. The qualifiers will be held between December 2023 and March 2024 before coming Full Circle back to the grand final on the opening day of the Punchestown Festival, Tuesday 30th April 2024. The first six horses to finish in each leg will qualify for the grand finale with a prize pot of €60,000.
Richie Galway, Punchestown Racing Manager outlines the thinking behind the Full Circle Series: “There are two main objectives for this new series. Firstly we acknowledge just how high the standard of racing is in Ireland at the moment. Hopefully this series will give the smaller trainer and owners an opportunity to compete for a huge pot on a feature day on the calendar.” Galway continued: “Another key reason is to reinvigorate the essential involvement of UK trained and owned horses at Punchestown. We have been fortunate enough through the years to have amazing support from throughout the UK so we have qualifiers across all regions. This is an extraordinary opportunity for a horses at a certain level”.
THE FULL CIRCLE QUALIFIERS
- 12 December PUNCHESTOWN
- 25 January HUNTINGDON
- 28 January NAAS
- 16 February KELSO
- 17 February GOWRAN PARK
- 28 February WINCANTON
- 17 March DOWN ROYAL
- 21 March CORK and LUDLOW
- 28 March WETHERBY
FULL CIRCLE SERIES DETAILS
The Full Circle is a 10 race series that will take place across the UK & Ireland with the final being held at the 2024 Punchestown Festival.
Each qualifier will be a hurdle race over a distance of between 2 miles 2 furlongs and 2 miles 6 furlongs for horses within the (0-130) rating band.
The first six horses home in each qualifier will be eligible to enter the grande finale.
The Full Circle series final will be run over 2 miles 4 furlongs at the 2024 Punchestown Festival.
Five Full Circle qualifiers will be hosted at specially selected tracks in the UK with the remaining five taking place at Irish courses.
The qualifier races in the series will take place from December 2023 to March 2024.
This series begins (launch) and ends (finale) in Punchestown. It travels The Full Circle.
For further information please contact the Richie and Sean on firstname.lastname@example.org or call +353 45 897704
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
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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.
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
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
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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.”
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
Bollinger Best Dressed – Full Stop.
New approach to race day fashion as the Bollinger Best Dressed Style Council and concept for the Punchestown Festival is unveiled.
The countdown is on and all bets are off ahead of the 2023 Bollinger Best Dressed competition at this year’s Punchestown Festival from Tuesday 25th to Saturday 29th April. Following such positive reaction to a fresh outlook on race day style at last year’s event, organisers have further enhanced this aspect as the 2023 Style Council is revealed.
The concept is Bollinger Best Dressed – Full Stop. The challenge is set and the competition is open to ladies and gents who catch the eye of the Style Council members by dressing with confidence, elegance and creativity whilst considering sustainability and appropriateness of their outfit.
Tasked with the challenge of scouring the Punchestown crowds and identifying the best dressed race goer is a collective of ladies and gents who are highly regarded in their respective fields, have a passion for style and have excelled to establish successful careers in the fashion, style and beauty industries.
The Bollinger Best Dressed Style Council Lead Jess Colivet explains what makes this Punchestown’s competition different to other best dressed race day’s: “whilst style is timeless we are looking for something fresh and new. Last year we embraced the fact that Punchestown was probably the first real opportunity to find your style feet again and dress up following Covid. This year all bets are off and we are looking for a fresh approach to race day and occasion outfits. We invite entrants of all ages and genders to show us their true style with special emphasis on individuality, creative styling and a fresh outlook.
Colivet continued to explain the sustainable angle: “Being stylish is not about spending a fortune, the most sustainable thing you can do when it comes to fashion is to wear what you already have in your wardrobe. Real style is how to wear it and what you wear it with so get creative and borrow, swap, reimagine and alter your way to the Bollinger Best Dressed title”.
Allow us to introduce you to the nine Bollinger Style Council members who will attend on a combination of days to ensure a diverse and varied selection of finalists:
Jess Colivet @jesscolivet
Jess is The Bollinger Best Dressed Style Council Creative Lead and this will be her second year judging The Bollinger Best Dressed at Punchestown. A London College of Style trained image and style consultant, Jess’s passion lies in assisting both women and men in discovering their own personal unique style. Jess is a neighbour of Punchestown racecourse and has enjoyed attending the annual Punchestown Festival for many years.
Jess’s work as a personal stylist involves a consultation service for clients who want to feel more comfortable, confident and happy in their general appearance. Jess believes that “feeling confident and happy impacts all aspects of life from personal through to business. This can come from something as simple as how you dress and present yourself to the world”. Jess believes that fashion is less about clothes and more about personal style.
Lawson Mpame @lawsofstyle
Lawson Mpame is a Creative Director and menswear stylist who has been working in the fashion industry for seven years. His passion for fashion and storytelling through visual mediums has led to collaborations and projects with some of the biggest fashion brands in the world. Styling their latest collections and creating high end content allows Lawson to showcase both his style and creativity. The three pillars of his brand are class, creativity and confidence. 2023 will be Lawson’s first year on The Style Council and his very first visit to the Punchestown Festival.
Suzie O Neill @suzie.ayu
Kildare resident and award-winning entrepreneur Suzie O’Neill is the owner and CEO of Ayu Cosmetics and Koolfit Apparel. Suzie’s ethos has always been about engagement with the customer and using feedback to inspire and develop new products. This will be Suzie’s second year on The Style Council at Punchestown.
Suzie’s business journey started with a range of affordable, premium quality brushes back in 2015 and since then AYU has expanded to include a full suite of cosmetics with many new and innovative products in the pipeline. A champion of women in business Suzie has a team of over twenty talented women across her brands.
When not running her successful business this busy Mum is running half marathons with Clane Athletics Club.
David O Connor @styledoc
Louis Copeland Group GM/Creative Director/ Made-To-Measure specialist.
Aptly named known as ‘The Style Doctor’ David has been working with the Louis Copeland group for over twenty years where he has styled some of the sharpest dressed, well known gentlemen including actors Patrick Dempsey and John C Reilly, celebrity chef Donal Skeahan, Tv Presenter and Olympian Greg O’Shea and globally renowned Mentalist Keith Barry.
This will be David’s Punchestown debut and as a passionate flag bearer of gentlemen’s style he will be looking for impeccable grooming, excellent tailoring fit and perhaps a different take on the traditional occasion suit. Keen to champion gentlemen’s style and optimize the opportunity for the title to go the way of the men for the first time, David will be looking for perfect fit through great tailoring as well as attention to detail on presentation.
Katie Du Jour @katiedujour
2019 Bollinger Best Dressed Winner and 2022 Style Council member Kate Nally McCormack is a mother of four from the Midlands who works with the HSE. Although a Punchestown Festival regular for many years, Kate made her best dressed debut in 2019 a winning one and having literally walked the walk knows what it takes to land the coveted title. The winning prize of a money cannot buy trip to France including an exclusive tour of Champagne Bollinger Estate, Michelin star dining and chauffeur transfers ranks as an experience of a lifetime for Kate. She believes that everyone should give it their best shot to be in with a chance to enjoy the same wonderful experience.
Kate possesses the knack of achieving a polished stylish look by combining high street with designer or vintage items.
Sinead Keary @sinead_keary_personal_shopping
Sinead Keary is a fashion designer and entrepreneur who founded her self-titled fashion label in 2019. The first collection came to life after 12 years of working in luxury retail and with hundreds of personal shopping clients who repeatedly expressed the age old adage that they had a wardrobe full of clothes and nothing to wear.
Sinead set about designing a collection of luxury essentials to help in forming the foundations of a capsule collection. Minimalism, femininity, fine fabrics and perfect fit are all essential components to the label collection that has been worn by Vogue Williams, Fearne Cotton and Rachel Stevens.
Sarah Battle @housebythewhitethorns
Sarah Battle is a modern day wonder woman. She lives in the West of Ireland with her husband and five kids. In 2019 Sarah began her blog to showcase her passion for home décor, style, baking and now uses her platform as an insight to daily family life along with style and décor advice. Sarah has collaborated with many high profile fashion and lifestyle brands and has amassed over 123,000 followers on Instagram.
Roxanne Parker @roxanne_parker
Roxanne Parker began her journalism career 20 years ago and has been working as a fashion stylist for more than 15 years. Roxanne’s styling skills are highly sought after for magazine and print media editorials and designer brand look books as well as curating television broadcast wardrobes. Roxanne holds a regular TV segment on Ireland AM and has dressed celebrities in sustainable looks for the red carpet. Roxanne has launched a Sustainable Fashion Podcast My Soul Style.
Roxanne champions sustainable and slow fashion and supports designers and brands creating pieces with a planet conscious mission while encouraging people to dress as their authentic selves and not be a slave to trends. A Roxanne style top tip would be to source a great tailor and alterations service which can transform existing items or elevate great second hand finds.
Michelle O’Sullivan, Champagne Bollinger International Representative
Perhaps the most qualified of all the style council members Michelle O’Sullivan, representing Bollinger International has observed the evolution of style and occasion dressing at Punchestown since Bollinger’s sponsorship began in 2016. Bollinger say life can be perfect and with years of experience in the industry Michelle knows exactly what encapsulates the iconic Bollinger brand, ethos and customer.
Punchestown’s Shona Dreaper explained the thinking behind the Style Council concept “ The style element of the festival is so important and the best dressed competition gets plenty of discussion and airtime throughout the week I can assure you! At Punchestown we embrace progress and fresh thinking. Our concept is to move away from the traditional format, encourage entrants of all genders, age and style to get involved. The Punchestown Festival is a celebration and like all great parties a well-dressed guest list is essential”.
The Bollinger Garden in The Style Quarter will be the epicentre of all things fashion at The Punchestown Festival. From Tuesday 25th to Friday 28th April, 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 goodie bags complete with gorgeous AYU products. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday’s winners will be fast-tracked to the grand final on Ladies Day, Friday 28th. Stay tuned for more information on prize and format as the countdown to Punchestown 2023 continues.
The Punchestown Festival runs from Tuesday 25th to Saturday 29th April. Race & Dine Hospitality packages from €159pp. Tickets from just €35 with group concessions available. Bundled transfers, accommodation and event packages are available.
The Punchestown Festival runs from Tuesday 25th to Saturday 29th April. Race & Dine Hospitality packages from €159pp. Tickets from just €35 with group concessions available. Bundled transfers, accommodation and event packages are available. Punchestown offers a unique blend of fashion, entertainment, shopping, food, music and all the fun of a festival. The famous atmosphere comes alive when racing champions go head-to-head and Ireland’s most stylish take each other on in the fashion stakes. The Bollinger Best Dressed Competition will take place over the first four days with the final of the competition on Friday, 28th April. For all your festival information visit www.punchestown.com, call 045 897704 or follow us on social media.
BOLLINGER, the iconic Champagne House respected and beloved the world over, is proud to be associated with an event that shares the same values and aspirations as Bollinger: great food, glamorous fashion, good company and thrilling sport. Bollinger Special Cuvée is a joy to be savoured on any special occasion, with the distinctly rich and elegant “Bollinger Style” lauded and admired the world over. http://www.champagne-bollinger.com/