What is the Punchestown Festival?
With several Grade 1s spread over five days (from Tuesday to Saturday), racing starts around 3pm, and goes until around 8pm. There's been racing at the now 2 mile round chase track since 1861, with the course's official establishment in 1875, and the 'bank' cross country course that so characterised its early life is still in use almost every day of the festival. Like the Dublin Racing Festival, it's a Cheltenham equivalent, and a chance for native Irish talent to shine.
What's the itinerary?
Flying in on Wednesday, we transport you on the c.50km journey from Dublin Airport to nearby Naas, and its surrounding hotels. There's a private tour of the Irish National Stud that morning and, from there, our transfers head straight on to Ireland's natural sporting ampitheatre, tucked ten minutes from Naas, deep in the countryside of Co. Kildare. No wonder the county is known as the 'Newmarket of Ireland'. We'll provide tickets, of course, and take you back to the hotel and airport after racing.
What happened in 2023's edition?
This year's festival is still ongoing, but it has been a good week for Willie Mullins. Ireland's champion trainer, however, failed to take the Punchestown Gold Cup, as Galopin Des Champs was pushed to second by Martin Brassil's longshot, Fastorslow.
What about transfers from Dublin?
Unlike Leopardstown, in the suburbs of the Irish capital, at Punchestown you really feel at one with the Irish interior. This is a point-to-pointing heartland, and a rural idyll that could be miles from central Dublin, if it wasn't for the fact it's under an hour by road from the airport. A warm welcome awaits, and a chance to delve deep into the strong and stable Irish racing family.