Tag Archives: festival

Tote backing Punchestown Gold Cup

Tote Ireland are to sponsor one of Ireland’s top staying chases, the Punchestown Gold Cup. The race will now be called the thetote.com Punchestown Gold Cup, promoting Tote Ireland’s online pool betting website. The 2012 Gold Cup is valued at €140,000 with a lucrative €85,400 going to the winner. The race has been highlighted as a possible option for 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Long Run and will as usual attract all of Ireland’s leading staying chasers.

Commenting on the sponsorship, Dick O’Sullivan, manager of Punchestown said: “We are delighted to welcome the Tote as title sponsors of the Gold Cup on Festival Wednesday. The race will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of the Festival week and we were delighted to see that it remains a possible target for Long Run. We also look forward to continuing our long standing relationship with previous Gold Cup sponsor Diageo, who will continue to play a major role throughout the Festival and will sponsor The Grade A Guinness Handicap Steeplechase on Festival Wednesday as well as the very last race of the Festival on the Saturday each year, as they have done so for the past seven years. Saturday’s race is in aid of The Punchestown Kidney Research Fund and Diageo donate €15,000 to the charity each year as part of the relationship.”

Dryden Geary, marketing manager of Tote Ireland said: “The sponsorship will give us an ideal opportunity to introduce new customers to the exciting pool betting opportunities available on our website http://www.thetote.com and to reward our current account holders for their continued custom.”

The 3m 1f Grade 1 Gold Cup is the flagship staying chase of the Punchestown Festival and takes place this year on Wednesday 25th April 2012, when Ireland’s top racehorses will compete for a €140,000 prize fund. Entries for the Gold Cup close on April 4th 2012 with potential challengers including Nicky Henderson’s Long Run and Riverside Theatre, Quel Esprit for Willie Mullins, Quito De La Roque for Colm Murphy and Rubi Light for Robbie Hennessy.

The 2011 Punchestown Gold Cup had a thrilling finish which saw the Tom Doyle ridden Follow the Plan triumph for Oliver McKiernan ahead of the Dessie Hughes trained Vic Venturi, with Cheltenham 2012 Champion Jockey Barry Geraghty on board.

Fairyhouse reducing Easter ticket prices

Fairyhouse Racecourse have reduced admission prices and package prices for the 2012 Easter Festival. The three-day Festival (8th – 10th April 2012) features the Powers Gold Cup on Easter Sunday, and the iconic €250,000 Ladbrokes Irish Grand National on Easter Monday.

This year Easter Monday’s admission is only €20 (reduced from €25 in 2011) while admission on Sunday and Tuesday is €15 for each day (reduced from €20 in 2011).

The popular Ladbrokes Party Pack which includes admission, racecard, €5 Ladbrokes bet, a drink voucher and a food voucher will be just €30 for Easter Monday and €25 for the other two days.

The Bobbyjo Bistro package which includes a four-course lunch, admission, racecard, reserved table, tipster, for Easter Monday has also been reduced from €170 to €140.

Peter Roe, Manager of Fairyhouse said: “Fairyhouse has over the last 18 months taken a very proactive position on pricing and customer comfort. All our 2011 prices have been reduced by at least 20%. The Ladbrokes Party pack offers exceptional value and we look forward to welcoming a large crowd to Fairyhouse at Easter where we will be providing top class entertainment and offering excellent value for money”.

Biggest Chelt Fest preview night 2012

The Boylesports.com Cheltenham preview night is taking place tomorrow, Wednesday 7th March, in the Leopardstown Pavilion. Boylesports.com is hosting this event in association with the Irish Racing Post and Leopardstown racecourse and all proceeds from the night will go to the Irish Motor Neuron Disease Association (IMNDA).

The star-studded preview panel on display at this event sets it apart from every other Cheltenham preview night, with the UK and Ireland’s top racing experts sharing their opinion and knowledge.

The panel consists of Jonathan Mullin, Willie Mullins, Tom Segal, Anthony Bromley, Davy Russell and Paudie Hassett.

In addition, this is the only panel on which Willie Mullins will sit in Ireland which means attendees on the night can expect exclusive insights from the Mullins’ yard. Also, more sporting legends such as Jimmy Magee, RTE’s famous sportscaster, known as the ‘Memory Man’ is confirmed to appear during the night.

There is an expected attendance of over 600 people on the night. Tickets are available for purchase on http://www.leopardstown.com and will be left out for collection on the night. Tickets are also available in selected Boylesports shops; Suffolk St. / Camden St. / Parnell St. / Blackrock / Shankill / Bray / Crumlin / Dundrum / Kimmage / Greystones. Pre-booking is advised but tickets will be available on the night on a first-come first-served basis.

For anyone who cannot make it on the night but would like to contribute, donations can still be made by visiting http://www.imnda.ie. A video recording of the night will also be available on the Boylesports website.

Pat Keogh, CEO of Leopardstown Racecourse said: “We are thrilled to be involved in this fantastic event. The panel for Wednesday’s preview night is exceptional and promises to provide ample information and tips ahead of the highly anticipated Cheltenham Festival. We are especially pleased that all proceeds will be going to a very special cause, the Irish Motor Neuron Disease Association. I would like to thank Boylesports and the Racing Post for organising what will be a wonderful and informative night’s entertainment.”

Leopardstown slip into Cheltenham mode

Leopardstown racecourse has enjoyed three hugely successful race meetings so far this year; the January Jumps weekend featuring the Boylesports.com Handicap Hurdle, the BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle and the highly acclaimed Hennessy Gold Cup.

Year after year, these races have provided racegoers with informative clues as to potential winners in Cheltenham. The Road to Cheltenham series invited racegoers to come and see some of the leading contenders go into battle during the lead up to the Cheltenham Festival.

Traditionally this race meeting has been used by many trainers to finalise racecourse work on some of their principle contenders in preparation for hopeful Cheltenham glory and this Sunday is no exception with a competitive seven card meeting.

The feature race, The Carrickmines Handicap Steeplechase at 4pm presents a dozen runners with the weights headed by recent Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup runner-up, Roberto Goldback, while last year’s Irish Grand National hero, Organisedconfusion and the promising Ted Walsh trained novice, Colbert Station, are also in the line-up.

Two more interesting runners are last season’s Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup winner, Follow The Plan, and the Tony Martin-trained Montan, who has been running consistently well over fences and hurdles this season.

In other races, the Ballsbridge Hurdle has attracted seven competitors to face the starter and here the Charles Byrnes trained Pittoni clashes with the Dermot Weld trained New Phase while other interesting runners in a tight contest are the 2008 Cheltenham Champion Hurdle runner-up, Osana, the useful Won In the Dark and the smart mare, Oilily.

The concluding Killiney Pro-Am Flat Race sees the Jessica Harrington trained Jezki bid to follow up his winning debut effort over this course in late January.

Finally, in the Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. Steeplechase, Noel Meade’s recent Grade 2 Navan winner, Donnas Palm is likely to start favourite to follow up.

For rugby fans, you won’t miss the action at Stade de France. Leopardstown will bring a little of ‘Les Blues’ and of course ‘Les Verts’ to the racecourse where racegoers can watch the match on the large screens around the racetrack, Tote hall and numerous bars. There will also be a little French gastronomic flavour to the day with French-themed food offerings including:- ham and cheese croissant with coffee for €5, French baguette with roast beef, brie, onions and blue cheese dressing for €5.60 and finally for the foodie, beef bourguignon with a glass of wine for €14.

After the last race, some of the Cheltenham festival-bound horses will school on the track including; Lucky William, Forpadydeplasterer, Barel of Laughs, Lord Windermere, He’llberemembered, Moon Dice, Becauseicouldntsee, Realt Dubh, Silverhand, Fisher Bridge, Dylan Ross, The Midnight Club, White Star Line, Deal Done, Rick (FR), Chill, Magnanimity, His Own, Quiscover Fontaine, Prince de Beauchene, Allee Garde, Soll, Boxer Georg, Sir Des Champs, Blackstairmountain, Raptor, Up the Beat, Call the Police, Your Busy, Daffern Seal and Merchant Royal.

The schooling will also be shown on the big screen and every horse will wear a numbered saddlecloth, making the commentary easy to follow.

Pat Keogh, CEO of Leopardstown Racecourse said: – “This Sunday will be a great sporting occasion as Leopardstown delivers fantastic live racing action and the perfect location for the sport enthusiast to watch the Rugby, our caterers are have come up with French-themed food offering too. It should be a fascinating day when opinions and tips will be flying right, left and centre. Quite simply it is the perfect pre-Cheltenham experience.”

Last Instalment ruled out of Cheltenham trip

As first reported on The Irish Field’s Twitter feed ysterday afternoon, Last Instalment has been ruled out of the RSA Chase at Cheltenham after suffering a slight injury when winning the Dr PJ Moriarty Chase at Leopardstown on Sunday.

The Philip Fenton-trained seven-year-old, owned by the Gigginstown House Stud, had been a leading fancy for honours at the Festival after taking his unbeaten run over fences to four and notching his second Grade One success after he took the Fort Leney Novice Chase at Leopardstown in December.

Eddie O’Leary, Gigginstown racing manager, was speaking The Irish Field’s Ryan McElligott at Goffs Sales when the news broke about the unfortunate injury.

Later, Fenton said to At The Races: “He’s not going to run again this season. He was a little sore after Leopardstown, so I thought we’d play safe.”

Punchestown Festival vital for Kildare economy

The Irish National Hunt Punchestown Festival generated a record €59.8 million contribution to the economy of Kildare and its surrounding regions in 2011, according to an independent economic benefit analysis report carried out by NUI Maynooth.

The findings of the report demonstrate that the Punchestown Festival has successfully withstood the wider economic downturn and continued to grow over the last number of years in part by expanding to become a five-day festival – from four days – and attracting a near record 95,061 visitors in 2011.

The attendance was boosted by an increase in international visitors predominantly from the UK which accounted for over 19,200 visits last year, up 23% since 2005. In total, €24.8 million was spent by visitors on accommodation, food and entertainment in the locality with an average spend per person of €261.

The increase in overseas visitors has enabled the Festival to continue to make an important contribution to local providers of accommodation, with 73% of visitors choosing to stay in hotels and 17% in B&Bs. The average stay in the area by visitors of three nights, with a remarkable 9% of guests staying for six nights or more.

The additional footfall contributed to a significant increase in the overall spend inside the racecourse of €21.4 million, the equivalent of an average spend per person of €368 on betting, food and drink and other items.The massive crowds in 2011 also spent €6.6 million on travel costs to and from the racetrack.

The economic analysis has provided data on the pre-Festival spend by fashion conscious female racegoers revealing that a remarkable €7 million was spent on attire and clothing. The average spend per female on attire prior to attending the festival was €196. The spend correlates to a separate finding that almost as many women as men are now attending the Festival with females accounting for a very significant 45% of the overall attendance.

Commenting, David Mongey, Chairman of Punchestown said: “With a tradition and heritage dating back almost 200 years, the Punchestown Irish National Hunt Festival remains first and foremost an annual cultural and sporting event of great significance for the people of Kildare and its surrounding areas.

“But we are delighted to welcome this report by NUI Maynooth which shows that the Festival is generating €12 million a day. It is extremely heartening and encouraging that even in the face of a severe economic downturn that the Festival is delivering a very substantial economic dividend to Kildare, its surrounding areas and to the wider economy.”

The findings are part of an economic evaluation report undertaken by Professor Rowena Pecchenino, Head of the Department of Economics, Finance & Accounting, and her team at the NUI Maynooth. The findings of the report were derived from a comprehensive survey of 1,100 racegoers throughout the five days of the Festival last year.

Commenting, Professor Pecchenino, said: “It is clear from our findings that the Punchestown Festival makes a very substantial economic contribution annually to Kildare and the surrounding areas. The direct economic value of the 2011 Festival was estimated at about €60 million although another €9 million – €12 million could be added to account for the indirect economic or expenditure multiplier effects.”

Attendance at the Festival is underpinned by a loyal core of racegoers, just over 51%, who attend every year, while efforts to reach out to new visitors accounted for 33% of the overall attendance. Just over half of visitors were under the age of 44, with the 35-44 years category the single largest cohort at 21.6%, followed by 45-54 years at 20.7%.

The income profile of attendance at the Festival reveals it has a very broad and diverse socio-economic appeal with 63% of racegoers possessing a gross annual income of €54,999 or less, while 10% of attendees had an annual income in excess of €100,000.

The 2012 Punchestown Festival takes place from Tuesday 24th to Saturday 28th April. For further information please visit http://www.punchestown.com

World Hurdle entries headed by Big Buck’s

Big Buck’s features among 34 entries for this year’s £260,000 Grade One Ladbrokes World Hurdle as he bids to capture the three-mile championship contest for a record fourth consecutive time at The Festival on St Patrick’s Thursday, March 15.

A total of 11 Irish-trained entries include eight possible runners from the stable of Willie Mullins, headed by dual Grade One winners Thousand Stars and Quevega, Mourad, So Young, Zaidpour and Mikael d’Haguenet, plus the Colm Murphy-trained Voler La Vedette, who has won her latest three starts impressively.

However, Big Buck’s is unbeaten in 14 starts over the smaller obstacles since contesting the Hennessy Gold Cup in November, 2008, and looked as good as ever when sauntering to a comprehensive eight-length success on his latest start in the Grade One Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on December 17.

His trainer Paul Nicholls is considering letting Big Buck’s take his chance in the Grade Two Cleeve Hurdle over three miles on Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham on January 28 in preparation for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle. If the nine-year-old were to capture both races, he would equal the record for consecutive wins over jumps in Britain set by three-time Champion Hurdle winner Sir Ken, who recorded 16 straight victories in the 1950s.

Big Buck’s is rated a 4/7 chance for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle with the race sponsor, which has Oscar Whisky, also entered in the Stan James Champion Hurdle, as the 4/1 second favourite. The Nicky Henderson-trained seven-year-old has yet to race over three miles but boasts some excellent form over shorter distances, including a fine third in last year’s Stan James Champion Hurdle and a facile success over an extended two and a half miles on his latest start at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.

Restless Harry was ninth behind Big Buck’s in last year’s Ladbrokes World Hurdle but Robin Dickin’s stable star posted an excellent performance when comprehensively winning a Grade Two Hurdle at Wetherby in October. The eight-year-old subsequently made the frame in two starts over fences before returning to hurdles to finish third behind Big Buck’s at Ascot in December.

Dickin revealed: “The Ladbrokes World Hurdle is on the radar for Restless Harry and we will make a decision whether to keep him over hurdles or return to chasing in due course.

“He will probably be entered in the Cleeve Hurdle on Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham and he could go for the Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase on the same card. If he didn’t run there, I might look at the Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock instead.

“He never runs a bad race and his Wetherby run at the start of the season was astonishing. I am not quite sure what that was about so I am not sure how to recreate it – I would have thought that the run would have brought him on.

“Going chasing isn’t off the agenda with him but the season is getting on and there are such huge prizes on offer with the long-distance hurdles. He got a little bit chopped coming round the top turn in last year’s Ladbrokes World Hurdle and I think that he has improved slightly since then.”