The Irish National Hunt Festival, commonly known as the Punchestown Festival, is one of the highlights of the Irish sporting and social calendar. Running for five days at the end of April each year, it is the culmination of the Irish National Hunt season and the meeting features no fewer than 12 Grade 1. Impressive prize money and prestige attract the best of British and Irish racing talent. The biggest crowds of the week are drawn to the traditional Ladies Day on the Friday and Saturday's Family Festival Day is becoming increasingly popular. The season's champion owner, champion trainer and champion jockeys are all crowned at the conclusion of the festival.
The two-day Punchestown Winter Festival hosts the first grade 1 hurdle race of the jump racing season in the form of the Morgiana Hurdle. The race often features the reappearance of a number of the previous season's leading two-mile hurdlers. The supporting cards on both days boast a number of graded races and affords the first opportunity to see the famed Punchestown cross-country course being tackled.
In the course of the season, there are 14 Grade 1 races at Punchestown, one each in November and December and 12 at the Irish National Hunt Festival in late April/early May. In addition to the Grade 1 events, there are numerous Grade 2 and Grade 3 races over both hurdles and fences throughout the year at the County Kildare venue.
Punchestown Gold Cup
The Punchestown Gold Cup is a Grade 1 National Hunt chase held at the Irish National Hunt Festival in late April/early May. It is open to horses aged five years or older and is run over a distance of three miles and one furlong. The race has been run since 1999 and often features horses which ran competed in the Cheltenham Gold Cup earlier in the season. Notable winners include Imperial Call, Florida Pearl, Beef Or Salmon, Kicking King, War Of Attrition, Don Cossack and Djakadam.
Punchestown Champion Chase
The Punchestown Champion Chase is a Grade 1 National Hunt chase held at the Irish National Hunt Festival in late April/early May. It is open to horses aged five years or older and is run over a distance of two miles. Once run as a handicap, it became a conditions race in 1999 and was run as a Grade 1 for the first time the following year when the Charlie Mann-trained Celibate prevailed under Richard Dunwoody. The race has developed into one of the biggest races of the Irish National Hunt Festival at Punchestown and notable winners include Flagship Uberalles, Moscow Flyer, Master Minded, Sprinter Sacre and Sizing Europe.
The Morgiana Hurdle is the first Grade 1 hurdle race of the Irish National hunt season. It is run at Punchestown over a distance of two miles in mid-November and often attracts the best of horses returning from their summer break. It was run as a Grade 1 for the first time in 2006 and has been won by greats such as Limestone Lad, Moscow Flyer, Brave Inca and Hardy Eustace since. Hurricane Fly became the first horse to win the race three years in-a-row when winning for trainer Willie Mullins and jockey Ruby Walsh in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Limestone Lad also won the race on three occasions, in 1999, 2001 and 2002. His winning sequence was interrupted by Moscow Flyer in 2000.
John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase
Run over two miles and four furlongs, the Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Chase is among the most prestigious steeplechases on the jump racing calendar. As one of only two grade one chases in Ireland run in advance of Christmas each year this race boasts an all-star role of honour with the likes of Kicking King, Beef Or Salmon, Carvills Hill, Florida Pearl and Don Cossack landing the honours.
Saturday, 10th Apr 2021
Punchestown Ladies Day
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