A Guide To Punchestown Racecourse

Punchestown Racecourse is a National Hunt horse racing facility located in Co. Kildare, just outside Naas, Ireland. The facility is regarded as the most prestigious racetrack for National Hunt races that invites the best horses from Europe to participate in its racing features.

The article provides a brief but insightful account of the history, physical attributes, and racing calendar of Punchestown Racecourse.

Punchestown Racecourse History

Racing at Punchestown racecourse has been taking place since 1824. However, the first races held under the patronage of the Kildare Hunt Club can be traced to 1850. The racecourse had humble beginnings and lacked even the basic facilities to accommodate spectators for watching the races.

The absence of stands for the spectators led to small crowds, while the course was in bad shape due to continuous rains and lack of proper maintenance. However, things began to improve in the following years. In 1854, a wooden grandstand was added to the course. Soon the racecourse gained popularity, and notable members of the society, including the royalty, began attending races at Punchestown.

In the early part of the 20th century, the political situation in the country began to worsen, which impacted other aspects of society. Horse racing was no exception, and Punchestown Racecourse was forcibly closed in 1919. This had severe repercussions for the economy of Naas County and the surrounding areas.

Racing returned two years later, and things began to improve until the advent of World War II when racing was again suspended between 1941 and 1943. When Punchestown Racecourse resumed races in 1944, the locals received it enthusiastically.

The racecourse experienced a significant boost towards the 1960s when a new track was built for hurdle races, and brush fences were added. During this time, permanent stands and enclosures were also added to the facility.

Over the years, Punchestown Racecourse has undergone various renovation and upgrade projects to modernise its facilities and keep them up-to-date. These efforts have led to Punchestown Racecourse being recognised as the most prestigious National Hunt horse racing venue in Ireland.

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Punchestown Racecourse Facilities

The right-handed racecourse features a flat, chase, and hurdle track. The chase track at Punchestown Racecourse is one of the best in the region, with undulations that make it challenging for the horses. The track comprises 11 fences placed around the track, with the last two fences in the home straight placed relatively close to each other.

Horses must have a lot of stamina to conquer this track, as the last two tracks are quite a feat to master for the tiring race participants. Once the horses have completed the previous two obstacles, they must run for only one furlong to finish the race.

The hurdle track is inside the chase course and has more undulations than the chase track with tight turns. The last turn is challenging, with the track going downhill toward the end. There is another alternative hurdles track enclosed within the main track. The outer track is a 2-mile circuit, while the inner is 1 mile and three-quarters.

Besides these tracks, Punchestown is also home to a cross-country track, the only one in Ireland. It is an impressive track with challenging left and right turns twists, and obstacles.

Punchestown Racecourse also features various fast food outlets, restaurants, coffee shops, bars, stalls, and sweet shops. The facility is also home to trackside pavilions used for parties and events.

Punchestown Racecourse Fixtures & Calendar

Punchestown Racecourse is home to 17 National Hunt meetings, which are regarded as the finest and most prestigious in the world. The most notable racecourse feature is the five-day Punchestown festival held in April. It comprises 12 Grade 1 National Hunt races, in which the strongest competitors take part and show their skills before the season end.

In the earlier part of the season, the racecourse also hosts the Morgiana Hurdle, which is held in November, and John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase, held in the following month.

How to get to Punchestown Racecourse

Punchestown Racecourse is located just outside Naas, around 30 km south of Dublin. The nearest railway station is Sallins. During regular days you can reach the racecourse via bus service or shuttle services to Naas and book a ride to the racecourse. During Punchestown festival, private coaches can take you from Dublin to Punchestown. Buses and shuttle services are also readily available.

FAQs

Where Is Punchestown Racecourse?

Punchestown racecourse location is nestled in the scenic heart of County Kildare, Ireland, a place renowned for its rich equine heritage. Specifically, the racecourse is positioned in the parish of Eadestown, situated between the R410 and R411 regional roads, close to the town of Naas. This strategic location makes it an accessible destination for horse racing enthusiasts from across Ireland and beyond.

Punchestown is celebrated as the home of Irish Jumps Racing and annually hosts the prestigious Punchestown Irish National Hunt Festival. The festival is a highlight in the Irish racing calendar, attracting visitors from all corners of the globe to witness top-class National Hunt racing. The racecourse itself features a right-handed track with undulating hurdles and steeplechase courses, presenting a thrilling challenge for both horses and jockeys alike.

Its proximity to Dublin, less than an hour’s drive away, ensures that Punchestown racecourse location is convenient for both local and international visitors. Whether travelling by car or public transport, accessing this iconic venue is straightforward, underlining its status as a premier destination for horse racing in Ireland.

What Are The Main Punchestown Racing Fixtures In 2024?

The main Punchestown fixtures for 2024 begin with the Quevega Mares Hurdle Day on 21st February. Highlight events in April and May include the William Hill Champion Chase Day on 30th April, followed by the Ladbrokes Gold Cup Day and the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle Day on the 1st and 2nd of May, respectively. The Punchestown Champion Hurdle & Ladies Day is on 3rd May, with the Ballymore Festival Day concluding the series on 4th May. Additionally, the Summer In Town Days 1 and 2 are scheduled for the 8th and 9th of June.


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