A letter from PKRF founder and organiser James Nolan.
The 32nd running of the “Have the Conversation – Say YES to Organ Donation” Punchestown Charity Race took place on Saturday 29th April 2023. The weather was absolutely fantastic and people stayed on in their thousands to cheer on all the jockeys and create a wonderful atmosphere providing a fitting finale to the Festival. Local Kilcullen championship winning footballer, Paul Bell expertly steered home Stuzzikini trained by Gordon Elliot to win the race from local Kilcullen beautician Sinead Smullen on board Jungle Cove trained by Jessica Harrington with Triona Burbage back in third on Diamondinthemud trained by Nigel Slevin. There really was an amazing atmosphere and most importantly all our jockeys completed safely and enjoyed the privilege of riding at the Punchestown Festival.
2023 was quite simply another phenomenal year for the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund. The Jockeys managed to raise €94,158 on the day of the event, which is a new record for the past 32 years of the Charity Race. This means that the cumulative total raised to date is €1,796,835, which is absolutely incredible.
During the past two years we managed to support the following projects:
• We sponsored and helped the IKA establish a pilot peer support program for all kidney patients in Ireland. This program offers vital supports to patients and their families who are dealing with all the various issues and concerns that is all part of being a dialysis or transplant patient.
• We established the James Tracy/PKRF/Kidney Beam Exercise program for all Dialysis & Transplant patients, which will enable all patients to access free, online, live and on demand exercise classes, specifically tailored to all different levels of fitness and specifically for kidney patients.
• We continued our research into Polycystic Kidney Disease in partnership with the Irish Nephrology Society under the guidance of the Irish Research Council.
• We continued our support for our Art Therapy programs for Dialysis Patients in Tallaght & Waterford Dialysis Units – and we will expand this to Wexford in 2024.
• We continued to support Sports Programs for Dialysis & Transplant Patients.
• We organised a trip to Lourdes for one Dialysis patient and a carer.
So many people deserve huge thanks for making the charity race such an unbelievable success. The Punchestown Kidney Research Fund enjoys the privilege of being permitted to run our Charity Race during the Irish National Hunt Racing Festival at Punchestown Racecourse. Great credit is due to all the Team at Punchestown Racecourse who make our race day so special, as well as all the staff at The Turf Club who so generously volunteer their services on the day and also the staff at H.R.I. & R.A.C.E. who ensure our race is run correctly.
We are very grateful to all the owners and the trainers who have given continued support to our race, every year, for the past 32 years. We would like to acknowledge the various forms of media, whose coverage of our race in whatever way, is hugely important both to our charity and to all those people awaiting life-saving transplants; you all give hope to so many others by raising the profile of Organ Donor Awareness in Ireland.
On behalf of the charity I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund in any small way at all, as this has helped us to support various projects which, in turn improves the quality of life for those patients living with kidney illness and also helps us to create positive Organ Donor Awareness in Ireland.
I wish everyone continued good health.
Punchestown Announce Exciting Festival Changes as 2024 Campaign Launches
Punchestown Racecourse today released details of exciting plans and enhancements for the 2024 Punchestown Festival as the home of Irish jump racing prepare to launch ticket, hospitality and general sales for the flagship event running from Tuesday 30th April to Saturday 4th May.
The four-step plan has evolved from customer feedback, business analysis, market research and consultation. The scale of the five-day fixture, the commercial implications, economic impact and stakeholders are all considered when making such worthwhile and strategic alterations.
The Four Key Changes for Punchestown Festival 2024 include:
- Earlier Start Times
The first two days of the 2024 Punchestown Festival will revert to a 2.30pm start from the current time of 3.40pm. Market research shows that around 70% of paying clients would ‘definitely or most probably’ like to see some of the festival days start and finish earlier. This will assist with travel and post racing arrangements.
- Ticket Products and Pricing
Whether it’s a business or a household we fully appreciate that value for money is particularly important now more than ever. Following a full review of ticket pricing and products there will be a price reduction to €30 for the first three days and €40 for Friday and Saturday. As a premium sport and leisure event these prices compare very favourably.
There will be no early bird offers or promotions just one great value ticket offering for advance purchases.
The original Flexi ticket will be replaced by the new Choice Ticket that can be used Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday.
Senior, student, group and family ticket concessions continue and all children under 14 years of age race for free all season. Full value details available on www.punchestown.com
- Refreshed Festival Layout
The festival layout will undergo a full refresh including the removal of the traditional reserved enclosure and the introduction of new racegoer amenities. The objective is to optimise the scope of the enclosures, utilise all available facilities which in turn will improve footfall flow and reduce potential pressure points.
- Enhance & Improve Raceday Experience
This point is neither new nor dynamic as the pursuit of excellent customer experience is an ongoing process. The enhancement of the race day visit will go hand-in-hand with the new layout. The Punchestown demographic is a diverse one with varied tastes and requirements for a memorable customer experience. Alongside our catering and service partners, we aim to deliver a selection of great quality food and beverage options with efficient, friendly service in comfortable surroundings.
Conor O’Neill Punchestown CEO explained the theory behind the proposed plan “Today’s announcement is a very positive one. We greatly appreciate feedback, good and bad as without it we cannot improve the product which we offer. If we’re not improving we’re going backwards, it’s as simple as that and in the current climate that is not something any business can afford to do.
O’Neill continued: “We say it time and time again that people make Punchestown, so it is those very people who have shaped and informed this plan and it is this plan that will help us deliver the best possible Punchestown experience we can to our customers who are the backbone of our business. If it doesn’t work for the customer it ultimately won’t work for Punchestown, so I hope we’ve got the balance right as we look ahead to the 2024 Punchestown Festival.”
The 2024 Punchestown Festival will take place from Tuesday 30th April to Saturday 4th May. Tickets are now on sale. For full information please visit www.punchestown.com
Punchestown Festival 2024 Advance Ticket Prices
Tuesday/Wednesday/ Thursday €30
Friday and Saturday €40
Student and Senior receive a €10 discount on the day with proof of ID
*New product* The Choice Ticket – can be used on either Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday – €35
Saturday Family Ticket for two adults and children €50
Under 14 years of age race for free all year at Punchestown.
Group of 10 people plus receive discounts.
There will be no Flexi ticket available for the 2024 Festival.
*Advance Tickets are those booked and paid for by 10pm the night before the race day.
The later start time of first race at 3.45pm was introduced in 2009 during the economic crisis to accommodate racegoers looking to facilitate at least a half day at work. In recent years there has been an increasing demand from customers from both UK visitors, those who may travel significant journeys and festival goers who wished to make post racing plans to consider earlier start times. Local restaurants and pubs should welcome this news which will increase après racing trade.
An additional fixture has been announced for Punchestown on Tuesday, May 23
Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) has announced there will be an additional meeting at Punchestown on Tuesday afternoon, May 23. This meeting is one of the three floating fixtures that were kept in reserve when the 2023 fixture list was published in order to meet the demands of the horse population at specific times of the year.
This meeting will close for entries by 12 noon on Thursday May 18 with declarations to run to be made by 10am on Sunday May 21.
The race programme details for this meeting will be published in due course and the time of the first race will be at 1.45pm.
Advance bookings save €5. €15 admission on the day.
Punchestown Returns with The Homecoming Festival
Media Release : They’re coming home! The winners, the heroes and the champions return to the home of Irish jump racing for the grand finale of the season as the 2023 Punchestown Festival returns from Tuesday 25th to Saturday 29th April.
Organisers anticipate an attendance of 110,000 people across the five-day event that attracts visitors from throughout Ireland, the UK and further afield. The main attraction is the prestigious top-class racing that showcases the very best of Irish racing talent including Rachael Blackmore, Willie Mullins , Henry de Bromhead and Paul Townend. Visiting trainers from the UK are an integral feature of the festival with regulars such as Nicky Henderson, Paul Nicholls and new comer Olly Murphy sending horses across. A fully subscribed sponsorship portfolio of 50 event partners delivers an impressive prize fund of over €3.3 million on offer across forty races including twelve grade one contests. The entries for the flagship races are now closed and feature equine superstars including major festival players Galopin Des Champs, Energumene, Bravemansgame and Envoi Allen.
People make Punchestown and key to all great celebrations is the combination of guest list, live entertainment, delicious food, amazing style and this is where the Punchestown Festival delivers in spades. Over 17,000 hospitality clients from 795 companies, 158 of which are UK based, will enjoy delicious seasonal menus prepared and served by 60 chefs, 420 catering staff and 280 bar staff. Catering for this number means large scale and three tonnes of fresh vegetables, over 60 kilos of artisan cheeses and 15,000 portions of petit four desserts and canapes will be enjoyed over the five days. Throughout the pavilions, bars and enclosures the atmosphere builds with live music, street theatre and DJ sets running alongside shopping village and full entertainment programme.
The Bollinger Best Dressed competition is one of Ireland’s most prestigious style contests in the country with finalists chosen across the first four days progressing to the final on ladies day, Friday 28th April. Open to all, the fresh take on race day style encourages racegoers of all ages to be creative, sustainable and brave in a bid to win the ‘money can’t buy’ prize to Paris and The Bollinger Chateuax in Champagne region. An all-star cast featuring some of Ireland’s most popular style names make up The Style Council who will select the winners.
As one of Ireland’s largest events the Punchestown Festival is big business bringing a massive boost to the local economy with over €25 million generated through tourism, leisure and associated spends. However, the event also plays a significant community roll working alongside local GAA clubs and charities to generate funds through volunteer schemes and fundraising initiatives. The Punchestown Kidney Research Charity race, now in its 32 year, has raised close to €2 million and is joined this year by charities Barretstown, Samaritans, Cara Girls Project and Cystic Fibrosis Ireland.
Punchestown CEO Conor O’Neill looked ahead to the event: “The Punchestown Festival is a combination of so many moving parts. A showcase of Irish sporting excellence, one of the largest corporate events in the country, a huge social occasion, an essential fundraiser and a gathering of 100,000 people of all ages, urban and rural who will share in a memorable experience. People make Punchestown and we look forward to welcoming friends old and new to the home of Irish racing for the last week of April”.
For further information please contact:
Shona Dreaper, Punchestown Racecourse
Contact: 045 897704 or email@example.com
No-repro Fee images – https://we.tl/t-RJBYK6NqvW
Social Media Assets – https://we.tl/t-62fmsDzTh0
The 2022 Punchestown Festival takes place from Tuesday 25th to Saturday 29th April.
Tickets from €35pp are available at www.punchestown.com Pre-booking is advised.
Discount group deals are available online.
Concession senior and student tickets are only available to purchase on the day.
Contactless payment available throughout the venue. Cash accepted but visitors are advised to collect cash in advance of their arrival to avoid queues.
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
The Ultimate Destination for All Your Outdoor Needs in Ireland
A beautiful outdoor space can transform your home, providing a sanctuary for relaxation, entertainment, and quality family time. In Ireland, where nature’s beauty is abundant, there’s no better way to enjoy the outdoors than with a stylish and functional outdoor area. OutdoorLiving.ie, one of the largest outdoor retailers in the country, is your go-to destination for all your outdoor needs. Let’s delve into the story behind OutdoorLiving.ie and explore why it’s the best option for your outdoor projects in Ireland.
A Family Business with a Rich History OutdoorLiving.ie is a family-owned business that has been serving the Irish market since 2006.
Founded by Pat Kelly, who has over 40 years of retail industry experience, the company has grown into a thriving enterprise under the leadership of Pat and his son, Damien. The father-son duo’s shared passion for creating beautiful outdoor spaces and supporting each other in their ventures has been the driving force behind the company’s success. With a team of over 40 dedicated employees, OutdoorLiving.ie prides itself on its positive work environment and commitment to fostering growth within the company.
An Extensive Range of High-Quality Products OutdoorLiving.ie offers an impressive array of high-quality products for both domestic and commercial markets.
From outdoor furniture, artificial grass, greenhouses, composite decking, and more, you can find everything you need to transform your outdoor space into a stylish and functional retreat. The company sources its products from leading manufacturers, ensuring the highest quality and durability for your investment.
Expertise and Knowledge
With years of experience in the outdoor living industry, the team at OutdoorLiving.ie has outstanding knowledge and expertise in quality products. The company’s strong relationships with factories and manufacturers enable them to offer the best range of high-quality outdoor products to their customers. You can trust OutdoorLiving.ie to provide expert advice and guidance on your outdoor projects.
Largest Outdoor Furniture Showrooms in Ireland
OutdoorLiving.ie boasts two incredible showrooms located in the Glen of the Downs, Co. Wicklow, and in Dunboyne, Co. Meath. Each showroom offers a unique and immersive shopping experience tailored to the specific needs of their customers.
The Glen of the Downs showroom hosts an extensive display of outdoor furniture, wooden structures for all needs, greenhouses, water features, and more. Additionally, the newly opened shop offers coffee, snacks, and a multitude of garden accessories, making your visit an enjoyable and relaxing experience.
Meanwhile, the Dunboyne premises focuses on artificial grass, artificial trees and plants, beanbags, and a commercial showroom catering to hotels, pubs, restaurants, schools, charities, and government organisations.
Over 17 Years of OutdoorLiving Experience
Shopping with OutdoorLiving.ie not only means buying high-quality products but also supporting an Irish family business. All products can be shipped nationwide, with flexible lead times and excellent communication from their committed sales representatives. The company prioritizes customer satisfaction, offering convenient shopping options through their showrooms, online store, and phone orders.
This coming April 25th-29th, we will be showcasing our Eimear 6.7m Wooden Gazebo at the Punchestown Race festival. You will be able to purchase your race card from here and get to view the elegant Nordic Spruce structure for yourself. We at OutdoorLiving.ie pride ourselves on the vast range of wooden structures we supply. Many of these are on display at our Glen of the Downs showroom where you can walk around with the backdrop of the Sugar Loaf mountain in your view throughout the premises. Working with Punchestown officials, we also have a 30 second video about us & our range of products which will be playing in between races in the lounges and bar areas.
OutdoorLiving.ie is the ultimate destination for all your outdoor needs in Ireland. With a rich family history, extensive product range, expert knowledge, and unparalleled shopping experience, OutdoorLiving.ie is committed to helping you create the outdoor space of your dreams. Visit one of their showrooms or shop online to discover why OutdoorLiving.ie is the best choice for your outdoor projects.
Mullins in tip-top shape for Punchestown after surgery
Galopin Des Champs leads power-packed team for “end of term” carnival
Willie Mullins has pronounced himself fit for action ahead of the Punchestown Festival, following a successful hip operation three weeks ago.
Mullins has enjoyed spectacular success at the traditional conclusion to the Irish jump racing season and reports that most of his top guns will join him in making the journey from Closutton to Punchestown from Tuesday to Saturday, April 25th-29th next week.
The champion trainer – he will be crowned top dog for the 17th time – was speaking in a wide-ranging online interview (attached) in which he touched on a range of topics not confined to but including his admiration for stable jockey Paul Townend, starting protocols, his 93-year-old mother Maureen’s “incredible appetite” for the sport, and why he has a picture of triple Ladbrokes Champion Stayers’ Hurdle winner Quevega inside his trademark Fedora.
His Punchestown team is headed by Galopin Des Champs, who is on track for a possible reunion with Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Bravemansgame in the Ladbrokes Gold Cup, a race offered further intrigue by Henry de Bromhead committing another Cheltenham victor, Envoi Allen to taking part. Energumene, Impaire Et Passe, El Fabiolo and Lossiemouth are other Cheltenham scorers aiming to complete a high-class double, having emerged from their exertions in better nick than their trainer, who was quite lame at Prestbury Park and had an operation scheduled upon his return.
“I was in Tramore the other day and I’m on the gallops every morning,” Mullins declared. “I’ve missed very little time. “It’s fantastic what surgeons can do nowadays. I was amazed. Three weeks ago (Monday) I went in, and they kicked me out of the hospital on Wednesday morning. I was back on the gallop the next morning. I missed a few mornings; I did a little too much early on. When I came off the painkillers it soon settled me back! But it’s coming along nicely so hopefully I’ll be well able for Punchestown.”
He has spoken before of his rich memories of going to Punchestown as his legendary father Paddy brought a slew of stars from Doninga, and of his admiration for the “amphitheatre” of racing.
“It’s a nice time of year preparing for Punchestown. It’s like then end of term, when you’re going to school, you’re looking forward to the last exam and getting away for the summer holidays.
“From the time we were kids growing up, Punchestown was the end-of-season festival but it’s grown so much. The vast quality of the races, the huge prize money, the way that management are able to keep the ground safe for good horses. It’s a credit to the organisation. “Punchestown is a tremendous festival. It’s lucky that it’s a little later in the season. It usually get the weather, gets grass, gets everything. It’s set later in the afternoon when people can get to the races and enjoy themselves. It’s got a huge amount going for it.”
He describes his Cheltenham yield of six winners as “fantastic,” while noting that there was some external expectation that he might double that tally given he was sending his biggest team. But winning the Cheltenham Gold and Queen Mother Champion Chase, as well as a number of key novice events that suggest he has the next crop covered, left him very satisfied.
Champion jockey, Paul Townend was hailed for his ride on Galopin Des Champs in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but it paled in comparison to his heroics on board I Am Maximus in the Irish Grand National.
When Mullins commented on tactics deployed on Facile Vega at the Dublin Racing Festival in February, it was interpreted as criticism of Townend but that wasn’t how the boss saw it and he leaves no doubt about how highly he rates and values his man. “I didn’t call it criticism at the time. I just thought it was a tactic that didn’t go right. Put it the other way around. What I asked him to do on I Am Maximus in the Irish National, I had tied him down to instructions because he’s a particularly awkward horse that doesn’t like going right-handed. I’d asked him to go down the inside so he could keep horses on his outside the whole time but after a circuit, Paul changed his mind. He did the exact opposite and went down the outside and it worked.
“In Cheltenham, Paul was a jockey in the Gold Cup. In Fairyhouse, Paul was a horseman in the Irish Grand National. All he’d gleaned from pony racing, from hunting, from just riding, he put into use on I Am Maximus. I thought it was a fantastic ride. Whatever we thought about Galopin Des Champs in the Gold Cup, I thought his riding in Fairyhouse was excellent, something top drawer.
“I always think a good jockey is a guy that can pull a race out of the fire and win on horses that he shouldn’t win on. That’s the difference between great jockeys and good jockeys, I think. And he pulled that one out of the fire. That was an absolutely extraordinary ride.”
Aintree didn’t yield the same dividends. He watched events unfold from his sofa, including the disruption caused by protestors, and could only glean from the pictures what the rest of us did but feels the authorities deserve praise for how they handled the situation. The starting procedures are a source of frustration, however.
“In flat racing, if you don’t go into the stalls, you’re withdrawn but I think a lot of jockeys maybe cynically hold up starts when they haven’t a good position.
“Is there a case for a race being advertised at quarter-past five, if you’re not there at quarter-past five with your horse, that’s your problem? The starter shouldn’t have to wait for you unless there’s a real problem. To me, they should be ready to go and facing the right direction. Too many jump races are stopped with a false start waiting for a horse that has no intention of going. Even if he does go in the end, why upset 25 other horses or 30 horses for one horse? We’ve had plenty of horses over the years like that. You get your chance to line up and if the rest of them are in the right order, let them go.”
And what about that photo of Quevega, spotted as he doffed his hat in acknowledgement?
“I always keep a photograph of Quevega in my hat,” he exclaims with a hearty laugh, before explaining. “It’s just a business card I have in case someone picks up the wrong hat. My details are on the other side of it. I was flabbergasted the detail that you could see from that far away. But sure why wouldn’t Quevega be in my hat!”
A GUIDE TO WILLIE MULLINS’ PUNCHESTOWN RUNNERS 2023
GALOPIN DES CHAMPS (Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup)
“He’s in great shape. We’re aiming for Punchestown since Cheltenham. I didn’t have any worry about his stamina until about four furlongs out (in Cheltenham) when I said, ‘Right, now,’ when what I was convinced about was gonna happen or not. I just took his novice hurdle form to mean he would stay three-and-a-quarter miles easily as an older horse. I didn’t have any fear about him staying all year. I was surprised myself how much doubt crept in as they rounded the top of the hill.
“But Paul seemed to be going well at all stages. The only little blip was at the third-last where he brushed the top but the minute he did that, Paul just pulled him together, got him in behind the others, gave him just a little bit of time to recover. You could see Paul’s body language telling you, ‘This fella’s got plenty in the tank.’”
“JANIDIL is other one that could go there so hopefully we’ll be nicely represented.”
ENERGUMENE (William Hill Champion Chase)
“I was particularly pleased how he did it in Cheltenham. He’d been working like that at home. We were all a little disappointed when he disappointed at the rescheduled Clarence House Chase but I think we learned so much that day which meant he was a very good winner of the Champion Chase. The white fences might have upset him, we sharpened up tactics. I think he’s a fair sort to do what he did two years running and in the manner he did it in Cheltenham.
“Those ground conditions are very helpful to him as well. He probably won’t get those in Punchestown but if he does get wet weather, he’s going to be very difficult to beat with a clear round.
“We have GENTLEMAN DU MEE in that race and he won’t be hanging around at the start. That’s his nature and Energumene can follow away. Paul has the confidence to do both. I imagine, looking at the field, we could have four runners in the race with BLUE LORD and CHACUN POUR SOI taking their chances.”
STATE MAN (Paddy Power Champion Hurdle)
“I was happy with him at Cheltenham. He will run here. He’s in good form. We’ve SHARJAH, VAUBAN and ECHOES IN RAIN in the race. We will see whether Echoes goes for the Coolmore Irish EBF Mares’ Champion Hurdle or not. She could be a difficult ride over two and a half miles but ratings-wise, she would look the one for that, with Love Envoi the biggest challenge if she were to come but that looks the race to go for. In the same race, BRANDY LOVE would probably prefer to go left-handed but I think she’ll improve a good bit on her Cheltenham run.
“But back to the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle, State Man’s in good shape. There’s no Constitution Hill so hopefully he’ll be the one to beat there. Possibly VAUBAN needs a longer trip and we’ll give him a good shot at the flat later in the season to see what he can do there but the plan will be to go to Punchestown first.”
KLASSICAL DREAM (Ladbrokes Champion Stayers’ Hurdle)
“KLASSICAL DREAM is the one that can go back to Punchestown and win it (for the third year in a row). We didn’t know whether we were going to make it or not to Cheltenham but we thought his work was good enough. We took our chance. I think you’ll see the real Klassical Dream in Punchestown.
“It’s great to see ASTERION FORLONGE and MONKFISH coming back. Those horses had long breaks and have little turnaround from Fairyhouse to Punchestown and that’s a big negative for me. If they ran a good race, I’d be very happy. WHATDEAWANT is probably just not good enough. I’d be sticking with Klassical Dream.”
LOSSIEMOUTH (Ballymore Champion Four-Year-Old Hurdle)
“I was particularly worried when LOSSIEMOUTH hit what appeared to be the front (in the Triumph Hurdle). She took off with Paul at the top of the hill. It’s a long way out for a mare to be in front. She took over herself from Paul and I could see Paul wondering, ‘I don’t want to stop her but I don’t want to let her go either,’ and he did fantastically well to manage her at what would have been five furlongs out and keep enough in reserve to finish the race.
“We haven’t missed much with her this season. Christmas, Dublin Racing Festival, Cheltenham. That’s a lot on a filly and she’s not the biggest filly in the world but she has a huge constitution so hopefully, we ask for just one more day. There’s no reason to say that she won’t give it. She’s just so laidback, I don’t think racing or anything fazes her or takes too much out of her. She’s really top class.
“GALA MARCEAU will definitely go. BLOOD DESTINY was a little disappointing in Fairyhouse and maybe should have another go. I think he hasn’t shown his best to us and may need another year with summer grass under his belt. GUST OF WIND should have another go as well. I think ZARAK THE BRAVE is going to be ready to run. He’s a nice type. He showed a lot and then got a colic during the season and we had to put him to one side. But he’s a horse to keep an eye on.”
IMPAIRE ET PASSE, FACILE VEGA, GAELIC WARRIOR and IL ETAIT TEMPS are all ready for action. I very seldom change the way I do things. When you look at Facile Vega and Impaire Et Passe, you’re probably going to separate them between the KPMG Champion Novice Hurdle and the Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle. DIVERGE comes into the KPMG Champion Novice Hurdle after the form of Liverpool big time. Gaelic Warrior might want a longer trip and could be one of the Irish Mirror Novice Hurdle. HUNTERS YARN was probably a little disappointing. We’ll see how they work this week and look at it but they’re ready for action.
“I don’t have any negatives about CHAMP KIELY for the Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle. Facile Vega might come into the reckoning there (although) I’m not too worried about him over two miles. I always thought his dam Quevega had plenty of speed to win over two miles and I think she did earlier in her career in Punchestown but we always went down the longer road with her because we had Hurricane Fly and Annie Power around that time. This fellow has plenty of speed. We saw that in Cheltenham, he was so fast down between the third-last and the second-last. He’s not short of speed. It’s just using it, just the way the race worked out in Cheltenham. Like all our novices, they’re usually entered in both the two and a half and the two, or else the two and a half and a three and it’ll be one or the other.
“Gaelic Warrior is one that could come in for the two-and-a-half-mile race. Impaire Et Passe, no problem for him doing two and a half around Punchestown. We ran him over two miles in the Moscow Flyer in Punchestown before Cheltenham and the speed he showed in Cheltenham was fantastic but then again, that was against two-and-a-half-mile horses. NICK ROCKETT was very good in Fairyhouse. I might just leave him now. He’s in great shape but there’s a right shine to him after he did in Fairyhouse and whether I need to run him again, I don’t know. We’ll be well represented in it again.
“EMBASSY GARDENS and PARMENION are other possibles for the Irish Mirror Novice Hurdle. SEABANK BISTRO is one for it and SHANBALLY KID is one I think hasn’t given his best yet. Embassy Gardens and Gaelic Warrior are probably the two best. Embassy Gardens is a horse that could be improving as we come into the Spring so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he’ll run a big race there. Gaelic Warrior is a horse that probably needs to go out in trip. He shows plenty at home here. He did win the two-mile handicap in Leopardstown but I think he might be better off once he goes out in trip and maybe gets over a fence as well.”
“EL FABIOLO and DYSART DYNAMO have come out of Cheltenham well. SAINT ROI might run in the Barberstown Castle Novice Chase too. He seems to have come back fine from Aintree and we might roll the dice and let him take his chance. It’s a big prize and he won’t be doing anything else after that.
“El Fabiolo looks like he could be the real deal and could be the one contending for championship honours next year. We just hope we can keep him right, keep him sound. The type of performance he put in was fantastic. He’s a real nice prospect to have in the yard for next season.
“Dysart Dynamo can be his own worst enemy but a lot of people like that in a horse too, that he’s so exuberant and loves his game. I’m hoping as he gets older or gets a bit wiser, he learns how to settle and temper his enthusiasm. But of course sometimes, half his ability might be in his enthusiasm, especially for two-mile chases and he’s always a horse to be afraid of in one of those races. One day he’ll put it all together and maybe put in a huge performance.
“We’re well represented in the Dooley Insurance Champion Novice Chase. JAMES DU BERLAIS could go out to three miles and RAMILLIES could. APPRECIATE IT disappointed me a little bit in Fairyhouse. It might be too much coming back again. However, we’ve nothing left to lose and maybe we’ll just let him go there and take his chance. He’s a fair sort, I think, on his day. You’d have thought going up to two and a half miles should be enough for him. Sometimes horses lose their form and he might be one of those. Maybe he wants a trip but he wouldn’t be going there fresh. That race is going to be a tough race. He’s going to be one of the higher-rated horses in the race but a lot will depend on what he does. One bit of work will do him, maybe two. He seems to be fine. He was fine after the race, eating and drinking so that’s usually enough and we’ll let him take his chance.
“SIR GERHARD might go for a shorter trip. ALLEGORIE DE VASSY might go for a shorter trip.”
RACE &STAY AT PUNCHESTOWN INH FLAT RACE
“We’ve got a nice field of horses here. BALLYBURN was very impressive when he won the other day. Very hard on himself but I think he’ll be better off next time. DANCING CITY is a horse that I think is improving me. IT’S FOR ME is good enough to be in the field. RATH GAUL BOY’s performance when he was second to John Kiely’s horse (Champion Bumper winner A Dream To Share), we were a little bit disappointed on the day but his form looks well now. TULLYHILL looks a fantastic horse. When he won, he looked above average. WESTERN DIEGO is a nice type and WESTPORT COVE is another nice type. I’d imagine Ballyburn, Dancing City, It’s For Me, maybe Western Diego would be the top ones there. We’ve plenty to throw at it thankfully because it’s always a good sign that you might have novice hurdlers coming on for the following season.”
PUNCHESTOWN FESTIVAL FULLY EQUIPPED WITH HSS HIRE SPONSORSHIP
Media Release 20/04/2023: Punchestown Racecourse today welcomed the news that HSS Hire will complete the 2023 Punchestown Festival sponsorship line up as an exciting four-year deal is announced. Over 110,000 people from throughout Ireland, the UK and beyond are expected to attend the jump racing grand finale taking place from Tuesday 25th to Saturday 29th April.
This day next week the HSS Hire Handicap Steeplechase of €100,000 will be the penultimate race on prestigious Punchestown Gold Cup Day, Wednesday 26th April. The two-mile-five-furlong steeplechase boasts a varied roll call of previous winners with trainers Willie Mullins, Mouse Morris and Nicky Henderson landing the spoils in the last three runnings respectively.
Established in Ireland over 30 years, HSS Hire have grown to become the market leader in the tool hire and equipment management sector. The nationwide branch network caters for all size projects from large scale businesses to trade and home improvement customers. With branches in Galway, Cork, Waterford, Limerick and Dublin HSS Hire is a convenient solution across the country.
HSS Hire Ireland Managing Director Michael Killeen looked ahead to an exciting enhancement of the company’s association with the home of Irish jump racing: “HSS Hire is in a period of growth and we have recently made major investment in a range of powered access equipment which is filtering out to our nationwide branches. No doubt some of that gear will be in use at Punchestown where we have been involved for a number of years. Elevating this involvement to sponsorship status made sense for us during this time of growth. Punchestown and HSS Hire have a similar solution-based approach when it comes to delivering excellent customer service so we look forward to developing the partnership with the Punchestown team”.
Conor O’Neill, Punchestown CEO explained the background to today’s announcement: “The Punchestown Festival site of 430 acres is considerable. The event build is massive with a significant demand for equipment and tools. Michael Killeen and the team at HSS Hire have always been available to assist, advise and supply whenever we needed support. Having access to a nationwide network of supplies and expertise is an invaluable resource when under pressure for deadlines and solutions. It is a pleasure to welcome HSS Hire to the Punchestown Festival sponsorship line-up”.
The 2023 Punchestown Festival will take place from Tuesday 25th to Saturday 29th April. A prize fund of over €3.3 million is on offer across a forty-race programme that includes 12 grade one contests. Punchestown is big business and is Ireland’s largest sporting corporate hospitality event with over 17,000 guests expected to enjoy the famous dining packages and spectacular views.
Welcoming exhibitors old and new to Osprey Avenue Shopping
Brought to you by
The return of the much-loved Punchestown Festival is only a matter of days away and as always whilst the top-class racing takes centre stage organisers will provide a full programme of social events throughout the week with retail therapy featuring strongly!
The Osprey Avenue returns this year with some exciting new additions to the exhibitor line-up. Sponsored by the Osprey Hotel in Naas, the Osprey Avenue champions homegrown talent and hosts some leading names in Irish design, jewellery, millinery and art.
We strongly recommend allowing time for a stroll and browse along Osprey Avenue where acclaimed artists and sculptors exhibit their wonderful work. Long time regular Marina Hamilton returns with her wonderful and endearing studies of animals from her native rural Donegal base. John Fitzgerald’s works have caught the eye of many high-profile horse racing patrons and as always Sarah Lennon’s work is uplifting, vibrant and captivating.
With style and fashion delivering the colour and vibrancy of the festival, we are delighted to welcome back talented milliners Sophie Hunter and Isobel Marinot. Enhancing the lifestyle and design factor are newcomers Vanessa Ree Jewellery, Clare O’Connor luxury Irish design, aoife Lifestyle and award winning Tidings scarves.
Well-dressed gents in attendance will enjoy a visit to Devils Edge Shirts for made-to-measure tailoring while the ever popular Rathlin Knitwear, are famed as much for their warm welcome as for their hand loomed Donegal wool signature pieces. Horse industry favourites Redmills and award winning new comer Equieire cater for all things country and equestrian attire, whilst Agent 74 deliver the goods on sports accessories such as binoculars and more.
PunchestownLive.ie brought to you by Media Force will offer racegoers and interactive media experience by bringing the festival to a huge digital audience. Elsewhere fans of racing can enquire about upgrading their interest with a visit to the Horse Racing Ireland Owners stand where details on clubs, syndicates and how to get involved will be available.
If you’re looking for something unique for your home or as gift we recommend you stop by the Metal and Mallet stand to view their bespoke sustainable hand carved art and furniture. Olimar return with their selection of gift wear and accessories. Photography professionals and enthusiasts will already know Bermingham Cameras who have been supplying excellent photograpy equipment and customer service from their Dublin base for over 50 years.
So the message is clear. Factor in time and make your way to Osprey Avenue, enjoy a coffee, a chat and a browse through some wonderful Irish exhibitors stands where you could pick out something special to spend your winnings on!
The 2023 Osprey Avenue Exhibitors:
Aoife Lifestyle – @aoifelifestyle
Irish award winning luxury sustainable fashion accessories brand
Marina Hamilton Art – @marinahamiltonpainterand
Donegal based painter and sculptor.
Vanessa Ree Jewellery – @vanessa_concept_jewellery
Contemporary and meaningful fine jewellery designed for you.
John Fitzgerald Art – @johnfitzgeraldart
Meath based leading sporting, equine and portrait artist and sculptor.
Marinot Millinery – @marinotmillinery
handmade bespoke hats designed in Connemara
Rathlin Knitwear – www.rathlinknitwear.ie
Hand-loomed signature line in Donegal tweed from progressive Gaeltacht company.
Tidings – @tidings.ie
Marrying Irish design with Italian silks.
Sophie Hunter @sophiehuntermillinery
Hats and headpieces as unique as you.
RedMills Store @redmillsonline
Lifestyle store with exclusive brands
Agent 74 www.agent74.ie
Optical equipment specialists with a great range of sports themed gifts & accessorie
Claire O’Connor @clareoconnor_studio https://www.clareoconnor.net/
Luxury brand of wearable art with silk and cashmere scarves.
Equestrian sportswear using regenerated fabrics and innovative design
Olimar Gifts @olimargifts
Gifts and accessories
Sarah Lennon Art @sarahlennonart
Seeing it in colour.
Bermingham Cameras @bermingham_cameras
50 years supplying photographic equipment and excellent customer service.
Metal & Mallet @metalandmallet
Irish bespoke sustainable hand carved art and furniture.
Devils Edge @DevilsEdgeShirts
Tailoring beautiful made to measure luxury shirts.
HRI Owners @hriowners
Here to assist new and existing owners through the exciting journey of racehorse ownership.
Louis Fitzgerald Hotel www.louisfitzgeraldhotel.com
Designed for business and leisure guests.