They’re off at Punchestown

The Punchestown Irish National Hunt Festival began yesterday (Tuesday) and will give a E60 million boost to the local economy by attracting thousands of visitors from the UK and further afield.

The Punchestown Irish National Hunt Festival began yesterday (Tuesday) and will give a E60 million boost to the local economy by attracting thousands of visitors from the UK and further afield.

Horse facing enthusiasts will get the opportunity to see Kauto Star in action on Wednesday and on Friday the race that Chelthenham wasn’t able to stage - Hurricane Fly against Binocular - will set the pulses racing.

The Punchestown Irish National Hunt Festival is the highlight of the Irish sporting and social calendar. The special combination of thrilling sporting action, brilliant live entertainment, delicious food and drink, family fun, dazzling glamour or casual comfort is unequalled due to the unique Punchestown Festival atmosphere.

The Punchestown Irish National Hunt Festival is considered the grande finale of the jump season with top class horses, trainers and jockeys from both sides of the Irish sea converging on the Kildare venue to settle scores and confirm reputations.

Punchestown’s commercial manager Liam Holton said Monday: “It’s really building up at the moment and we are very confident that it will be a fitting finale for what has been a tremendous season for Irish National Hunt Racing”.

“Our ticket sales are suggesting that crowds will be up and we are expecting in the region of 100,000 people. Our ticket sales are ahead of last year and obviously we are dependent on the public showing up. Our pre-sales focus on the UK and the corporate market and then we are relying on the people of Kildare coming out. Kildare people love their horse racing and they love the venue,” he said confidently. 14,000 are expected to travel from the UK alone.

Mr Holton added that with the rough few years economically, the event is an opportunity for people to put their economic worries behind them for a while and enjoy a day, or days out. “We provide a few hours diversion and it’s not expensive to come here. We offer exceptional value for money”.

He said conditions at the race course are perfect and they expect the ground to be in pristine condition, with their watering pattern changed recently due to the dry weather which was experienced in recent weeks. Some rain is anticipated on Thursday night which Mr Holton said would benefit the ground conditions for racing.

The quality of racing is unrivalled with a total of 11 Grade 1 contests taking place.

An extensive traffic management plan will be in place for the week, with a number of shuttle buses available to ferry punters to and from the festival. Further details of the plan is available on www.garda.ie.