If you are wondering why much of Ireland’s business community will be difficult to pin down in the late afternoon for the next few days you may need to look no further than Punchestown where the Annual National Hunt Festival gets under way today.
This years meeting will have prize money totalling €3 million and a new facelift for the public areas as the first phase of a €1.5 Million redevelopment is open to the massive crowds for the first time.
Their are new catering arrangements in place with the provision of feeding an expected 120,000 racegoers over the five days now divided between three separate providers.
Sales figures have been very strong this year with corporate sales up 13% in advance and ticket sales up 35% on 2016.
There are new sponsors on board this year as well.
The €30,000 Friends First La Touche Cup will take place on day three of the Festival, Thursday April 27th and is one of the most historic and famous races on the Irish jump racing calendar.
Sport for Business members will be part of an exciting new initiative in horse racing which we will be revealing details of early next month
The four mile one furlong stamina test incorporates 35 jumping efforts over a combination of natural obstacles such as laurel hedges, drop banks and traditional steeplechase fences.
“Friends are delighted to be a part of this prestigious festival and in particular to be involved with the historic and famous Friends First La Touche Cup which we look forward to with anticipation,” said Marketing Director Brian O’Neill.
“The Friends First La Touche Cross Country race is embedded in the history and heritage of Punchestown,” added Janet Creighton, Head of Sponsorship and Sales at Punchestown.
“Friends First company origins go right back to 1834 so it’s fair to say both companies come together with very strong foundations. It has been a pleasure to work with the team at Friends First and we look forward to introducing them to one of the highlights on the Irish social and sporting calendar”.
The meeting boasts an enviable list of headline sponsors, led by the bookmaking fraternity who have the main races on each of the first four days through BoyleSports, Coral, Ladbrokes and Betdaq. They are backed up by Bord na Mona on the Family Saturday while Ryanair, Bollinger, Guinness, Three and the K Club are also part of the party.
Image Credit: Inpho