This week is the start of the Punchestown Festival consisting of five full days of some epic racing. This year will be an intense battle between Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins for Champion Trainer 2018. The five day festival consists of 12 Grade 1 contests and both trainers are throwing the kitchen sink at them in a bid to win the most prize money. Gordon is currently leading after a fantastic season topped off by an impressive 8 wins at the Cheltenham Festival in March, a record set by his rival Willie Mullins in previous years. This is a big money week with over €3 million on offer in prize money over the week.
The Punchestown Festival is like no other but it compares closely to the Aintree Grand National Festival. The racecourse itself is situated just outside Dublin and neighbours closely to Naas town and racecourse. There are plenty of hotels in the surrounding area which make it very easy to get back and forth from the racecourse and Naas if you want to continue your evening on from the races and experience more of the local scene.
The Irish take their racing seriously... they know how to make a true occasion out of it. As you can imagine, the Guinness flows from start to finish and the racegoers are mad for a punt. This is one of the highlights of the Irish sporting calendar and one to definitely tick off the list.
Day one consists of a total of seven races including;
Herald Champion Novice Hurdle (Grade 1)
Boylesports Champion Chase (Grade 1)
Growise Champion Novice Chase (Grade 1)
There are some hot contenders for the Champion Chase at 5:30 with Douvan sitting at evens and Min closely behind at 3/1. Another stable mate from Willie’s yard who will run is Un De Sceaux who won last time out at Fairyhouse.
The Gordon Elliott team are to saddle up four of the eight runners with Doctor Phoenix, A Toi Phil, The Game Changer, and Tell Us More with Grand National Winning jockey taking the ride of Ordinary World for Henry De Bromhead. The first race of the big battle throughout the week. The prize money combined for the three Grade 1 races on day one amount to €280,250...so winning all three for Willie could be just the leg up he needs to get the ball rolling.