Punchestown Festival

punchestown

Punchestown Festival 2020

As the jewel in Ireland’s National Hunt crown, the Punchestown Festival is the final major meeting of the season on either side of the Irish Sea, with over €3.2 million in prize money across 39 races with a whopping 12 Grade 1’s over the five-day marathon. The 2020 festival will take place between Tuesday April 28 and Saturday May 2 inclusive.

Thousands flock to the Kildare venue at the end of April for a spectacular conclusion to the jumps calendar with racing of all grades including the famous La Touche Cup, raced over Punchestown’s spectacular cross-country track.

Willie Mullins, Gordon Elliott, Joseph O’Brien, Jessica Harrington and Noel Meade all have plenty of Irish firepower to aim at the festival while British raiders Nicky Henderson - who trained Buveur D’Air to BETDAQ Champion Hurdle victory in 2019 - and Paul Nicholls often have several entries over the week.

The course itself is very fair, with the hurdles track spanning one mile six furlongs while the chase track is two miles long, on the outer of the hurdles course.

Punchestown Festival Tips

Punchestown Festival often features plenty of short-priced horses which have won at Cheltenham and/or Aintree, attempting to double up at the end of a long campaign.

For that reason it can often pay to oppose the market leaders, especially in the Champion Grade 1 races. In 2019, Min (8/13), Defi Du Seuil (9/4) and City Island (11/10) were all turned over despite winning at Cheltenham or Aintree.

Freshness can also play a big part going into the meeting, with horses which skip both major English festivals often performing well.

Here at The Winners Enclosure, we study every single runner and look to profile them all in our race guides, which can be accessed in the days up to any high-profile meeting.

Our tips and selections are all researched and backed up by our experienced team of betting tipsters. They can be found on our main daily horse racing tips page.

Punchestown Festival Betting

With races at the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals often defining the prices for Punchestown, markets are rarely made up until at least the end of March. Post-Cheltenham, most owners and trainers will highlight the intended targets of their star names, but that should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Many horses will have several targets and trainers like Willie Mullins will often send horses to certain races depending on the fitness of others in his yard.

This can make ante-post betting very tricky, so it is usually worth holding tight until the five-day declarations and taking a look at the confirmed fields and trainer comments then.

Many bookmakers will be offering free bets and extra places on the race, so keep your eyes peeled on our free bet offers page on the run up to the festival.

Major Punchestown Festival Winners

With a total prize fund of €300,000 for every open Grade 1 at the festival, Punchestown often attracts the elite equine talents from either side of the Irish Sea.

The 2017 Punchestown Gold Cup was one of the greatest races ever seen at the Irish track, with 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John, 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Coneygree and perennial bridesmaid Djakadam locked in battle over the final two fences, with the former coming out on top for Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power.

Sprinter Sacre also wowed the Punchestown crowd back in 2013 with a spectacular round of jumping to take the BoyleSports Champion Steeplechase, a race that the ‘Iron Horse’ Un De Sceaux has claimed in the last two years, defeating odds-on stablemates Douvan and Min in the process.

The Queen of Cheltenham, Quevega, may have been better known for her incredible exploits in the Mares Hurdle but that didn’t stop her winning the World Series Hurdle at Punchestown no less than four times, before being narrowly edged out in a fifth attempt at the race (her final outing before retirement).

Punchestown Festival Racecards

From the Tuesday until the Saturday, each day has at least two Grade 1 races with the opening day’s main event, the Grade 1 BoyleSports Champion Steeplechase often featuring the Queen Mother Champion Chase winner.

Day two is the turn of the staying chasers, with the Punchestown Gold Cup often attracting the Gold Cup and Aintree Bowl winners. 2019 was no different with Cheltenham winner Al Boum Photo being edged out by stablemate Kemboy in what turned out to be Ruby Walsh’s final ride.

The day three main event is the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle, with ‘The Machine’ Faugheen rolling back the years in 2018 to take the €177,000 first prize ahead of Stayers’ Hurdle winner Penhill.

Friday is BETDAQ Champion Hurdle Day, a race which Hurricane Fly won on no less than four occasions between 2010 and 2013. A battling Buveur D’Air won the 2019 edition for Nicky Henderson after a campaign which saw him beaten at Kempton, Cheltenham and Aintree.

And if you are still standing after four action-packed days of action, day five boasts the Annie Power Mares’ Champion Hurdle as well as the Champion Four-Year-Old Hurdle, with the Triumph winner often looking to back up that success overseas.

Punchestown Festival location and how to get there

Punchestown Racecourse is ideally situated in County Kildare, just over 20 miles away from Dublin city centre and 30 miles from Dublin City Airport.

A taxi fare from Dublin will set you back around €50, while Irish Rail operate a service from Dublin’s Heuston Station to Sallins (just outside Naas). During the festival there will be a shuttle bus service in operation which will transfer passengers to Poplar Square in Naas for free. The race day bus will collect (from €5) or a taxi direct to the track should be around €10 – €15.

Flights into Dublin City Airport tend to be from Ryanair or Aer Lingus. See the respective websites for more details.

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