The sun is set to shine and the stars come out for the return before full crowds of the Punchestown Festival in County Kildare getting underway this afternoon.

The five-day festival will run until Saturday 30th April and all indications are that this could be the largest attendance in the event’s modern history with crowds of up to 137,000 expected over the coming days.

A prize fund of €3.6 million ensures that the biggest and brightest stars of jump racing will go to battle on the track at the season’s grand finale.

History makers and record breakers like Rachael Blackmore, Willie Mullins, Paul Nicholls OBE, Henry de Bromhead and Davy Russell will present a showcase of horse racing in front of an appreciative Punchestown Festival crowd for the first time since 2019.

Amongst the equine all-star line-up is racing darling and dual champion hurdler Honeysuckle, along with Allaho, Energumene and UK raider Clan Des Obeaux who will bid to win back to back Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cups.

40 Races

The first of the 40 race programme including 12 grade 1 contests gets underway at 3.40 pm and concludes with the 31st running of the Punchestown Kidney Research Charity race on Saturday evening. Gates open at 12.30 each day.

The impressive sponsorship portfolio at Punchestown is fully subscribed with 50 event sponsors and partners listed.

Leading bookmakers Ladbrokes, Paddy Power and William Hill are title sponsors of feature races each day. Sean and Bernardine Mulryan’s Ballymore are front and centre on Saturday 30th April.

The media, property, financial, hotel and tourism and construction sectors all feature among the corporate support lineup.

In recognition of the support and goodwill received by the Punchestown team from clients, sponsors, members and racing fans, Punchestown management committed to a price freeze at 2020 levels despite costs increasing by between 20 to 40 per cent across the board.

Ticket Sales Up over 80 Per Cent

The level of anticipation ahead of the great Comeback Festival is evident in pre-event bookings with advance ticket sales up over 80 per cent.

The Punchestown Festival is Ireland’s largest sporting corporate entertainment occasion and the sold-out sign went up some weeks ago with waiting lists in place for last-minute cancellations.

“It’s so good to be back,” said Punchestown CEO Conor O’Neill. “Interest is through the roof and everyone is keen to gather and celebrate.”

“We say it repeatedly but people make Punchestown. We cannot explain how much it meant when so many sponsors committed to three-year deals back in the uncertain times of 2021, and hospitality clients rolled over their bookings and money on account since summer 2019.”

“We were one of few businesses that offered our members a full refund and I think three or four out of almost 600 availed of the offer. This is a testament to the relationships we build and how we like our customers and clients to feel they are part of this special place.”

“Like everyone, we are really feeling the increases in the cost of doing business but we committed to honouring our 2020 prices and know that what we do over the next five days will lay the foundations for the next five to ten years.”

Big Business

Punchestown is big business with over 900 firms directly and indirectly involved. Despite apprehension about the impact of Brexit, the UK market has not only maintained but increased and accounts for much of the €25.2 million spent in the local and national economy with hotels, restaurants, visitor attractions, transport providers and retailers all enjoying benefits of the mass pilgrimage to the home of Irish jump racing.

Whilst the top quality racing takes centre stage, the Punchestown Festival is also renowned as one of the most colourful stylish events on the Irish social calendar. Over 17,000 hospitality clients from 802 companies, 163 of which are UK based, will enjoy delicious seasonal menus prepared and served by three catering companies, Aramark, Lily & Wild and Brook involving over 60 chefs, 420 catering staff and 250 bar staff.

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.

Community is intertwined with the festival and local GAA clubs Ballymore Eustace, Eadestown and Naas are involved in a stewarding capacity and receive donations to their club fundraisers.

Sport for Business Partners