SOME 100,000 people are expected in Naas for the Punchestown National Hunt Festival, providing a significant boost for local business in Kildare.
Racecourse management say that overall ticket sales are expected to be between 10-15% higher than last year and again there has been significant interest among racegoers in the United Kingdom.
“The standard of racing that we expect to have as well as the quality of participating racehorses has generated a lot of interest in the festival and we have our increased our admission prices since they were reduced two years ago and this has made it more affordable for more people,” said Racing Manager Richie Galway.
Sprinter Sacre, arguably the best horse racing over jumps in the world, runs today.
Attendance records for the festival may well be broken this week after intensive efforts by management to keep sponsors in place and urge visitors through the turnstiles.
“Like every other business we are working harder to stay where we are and we have definitely seen stronger interest,” added Mr. Galway.
Businesses in Naas are also hoping the event will bring new customers to the town.
“We have signed up shops in Naas to do a 10% off promotion for Punchestown week and 18 shops are involved. Promotional material will be on display and we will have a great mix of shops and boutiques selling clothing, shoes, flowers and giftwear,” said Naas boutique owner Antoinette Buckley.
Meanwhile Bloom, Ireland’s largest gardening food and family event could come to Punchestown in 2014. It will again be staged at the Phoenix Park on the June bank holiday weekend and attracted 80,000 people in 2012.
“We’re keen to have it and it would a huge addition to use and Co. Kildare generally. We’ve lobbied for it and there has been a brief discussion but there will be no progress until this year’s Bloom is over,” said Mr. Galway.
Oxegen is returning to the racecourse for a scaled back two day concert over the August bank holiday weekend, which is likely to attract 50,000.
On Saturday as part of a fundraiser to raise money for reaearch into Motor Neurone Disease a book will be launched at the meeting.
“Michael’s Memoir” was a project undertaken by the late Fianna Fail TD Michael Fitzpatrick in the final months of his life and was completed by friends and family.