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Punchestown Festival: Dates, races, runners, history & more

The Punchestown Festival is one of the leading National Hunt meetings, and it usually takes place every April at Punchestown racecourse in County Kildare.

It is known as the home of Irish jumps racing, with the Punchestown Festival, which is held across five days, the highlight of the calendar.

Following on from the Cheltenham Festival and Aintree meeting in the United Kingdom, the Punchestown Festival is one of the final National Hunt events before Flat racing takes centre stage over the summer.

Horse Racing

Punchestown Festival date

The Punchestown Festival is traditionally held across five days, between Tuesday and Saturday, in April.

The 2024 Punchestown Festival will be held from Tuesday 30th April until Saturday 4th May.

Punchestown Festival venue

The Punchestown Festival is held at Punchestown Racecourse in County Kildare.

The racecourse is right-handed with an undulating hurdle and steeplechase track. The hurdle course is one mile six furlongs in distance, while the chase course is two miles. 

Punchestown Racecourse also has the only cross-country banks course in Ireland, and it has hosted race meetings since the 1860s.

Punchestown Festival how to watch

Every race from the meeting can be viewed via the bet365 live sports streaming service, while all five days of the Punchestown Festival from Punchestown will feature on Racing TV.

Punchestown Festival details

The Punchestown Festival is the premier Irish National Hunt meeting.

It is seen by many racing fans as the Irish equivalent of the Cheltenham Festival, and it is run in a similar format.

Thousands of punters and National Hunt fans flock to the meeting every year to watch the Champion Chase, Ryanair Novice Chase, Champion Hurdle and the Punchestown Gold Cup, as well as other races.

Some of the best Irish National Hunt runners compete at the meeting, while several UK trainers send their best prospects across the Irish Sea, with 12 Grade 1 prizes up for grabs across the five days.

Punchestown Festival history

The Festival has taken place since the 1860s, and continued to develop over time, with many locals classing the five-day meeting as a holiday.

The early meetings were held by the Kildare Hunt Club, but poor crowds due to a lack of infrastructure suggested there would be no future for the meeting going forward.

However, by the 1960s the track had undergone further modernisation and the venue has continued to grow year on year.

In addition to the racing action, those in attendance can revel in the iconic atmosphere, with the Punchestown Festival known for its great food, fashion and culture.

Punchestown Festival most successful trainer

Some of the best Irish trainers have had success throughout the years, but Willie Mullins has dominated the recent era.

The former jockey is a 17-time Irish National Hunt champion trainer, while he became the first Irishman in 70 years to win the British jump trainers' championship this April.

He has won the Punchestown Gold Cup, the feature race, a record six times since 1999, most recently winning it with Allaho in 2022.

Mullins has also won the Punchestown Champion Hurdle nine times and the Champion Chase eight times.

Punchestown Festival most successful jockey

Although he retired after winning the Punchestown Gold Cup in 2019 aboard Kemboy, Ruby Walsh still holds the record, winning the race six times.

Punchestown Festival most famous winners

With over 100 years of history, it is impossible to list all the iconic wins over the years at Punchestown.

The Punchestown Gold Cup has been won by the likes of Imperial Call, who also won the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Neptune Collonges won the iconic contest in back-to-back years in 2007 and 2008, while Mullins won the race three times in four years between 2018 and 2022 with Bellshill, Kemboy, and Allaho all doing the business.

In 2021, UK trainer Paul Nicholls stunned the home crowd by winning the race with Clan Des Obeaux.

The Champion Chase, worth €250,000 to the winner, has been won by Sizing Europe, Un de Sceaux and Energumene, with all three horses winning the race twice each.

Hurricane Fly's success in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle has yet to be matched, with Mullins' former charge winning it four years in a row from 2010 to 2013.

In the Champion Stayers Hurdle, Quevega leads the honour roll with four wins, and she, too, won the race in consecutive years between 2010 and 2013.

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