The 2017 Punchestown Festival will take place from Tuesday 25th to Saturday 29th April. This year’s event boasts a record breaking prize fund of over €2,927,500. Fresh from an all–time best performance at the Cheltenham Festival, the Irish team will take on a strong British campaign at the home of Irish racing where 37 races are up for grabs. The 2016/2017 Irish national hunt season concludes on the final day of the Festival when the champion owner, jockey, conditional and amateur jockey, leading lady rider will be crowned. This year’s festival will be integral to the trainer’s title battle between ten times champion Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott.
For the first time in many years the Irish Champion Trainers title will be a hard fought battle right to the wire. Ten times champion trainer Willie Mullins, who has dominated proceedings at Punchestown in recent times, is fighting his corner against Gordon Elliott for the winning most trainer of the season. It is most likely that the championship will be decided on Punchestown turf in April. The trainer championship is decided on by the prize money accumulated by the trainer throughout the season. The season’s champions, trainers, owners and jockeys are crowned on the concluding day, Saturday 29th.
The Punchestown Festival is considered the grand finale of the jump racing season and subsequently attracts the best of Irish and British racing talent. Home grown champions Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh, Bryan Cooper, Gordon Elliott and Jessica Harrington take on the might of the British raiders Nicky Henderson, Colin Tizzard and Richard Johnson among many others.
With 12 grade 1 contests throughout the week the Festival boasts some of the best in running action and thrilling finishes each season. Reputations are confirmed and crushed at the Punchestown Festival. Races take place over hurdles, steeplechase fences and on the flat course in what are referred to as ‘bumper’ races. Unique to Punchestown and steeped in heritage is the cross country racing discipline which is a real favourite for spectators as the horses and jockeys meander through the 400 acre site tackling banks, bush fences and steeplechase obstacles.
The races get underway each day at 3.40 apart from Saturday when the first goes to post at 2.35. Each day has what is referred to as a feature race and title sponsors are as follows:
Shone Dreaper the Marketing and Communications Manager for Punchestown Racecourse has been looking ahead to the big event in the company of Shannonside Northern Sounds Sean McCaffrey.
you can hear the interview here