Racegoers welcomed back to Punchestown for an afternoon of flat action

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RACEGOERS were welcomed back to Punchestown Racecourse in Kildare Ireland earlier this month, the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden opener going to Alizarine for Jessica Harrington, one of the greatest figures on the Irish racing scene.


Racegoers were around the parade ring once again when they were welcomed back to Punchestown Racecourse, Kildare Ireland


Former jockey Ben Dawson from the yard of Irish training great Jim Bolger (left) and his father Michael, out for an afternoon of racing at Punchestown Racecourse

It had been more than 18 long months since the public last attended a race day at the home of the annual Punchestown Racing Festival, and their return was celebrated with complimentary admission for everyone who registered their attendance ahead of the eight-race card. While attendance was well below the 5,000 generally seen in and around the parade ring, there was a variety of familiar faces and plenty of style.


Una Manning, daughter of Irish horse racing trainer Jim Bolger, pictured with P O’Brien and G Flynn at the Punchestown Racecourse Welcome Back


Local racegoer Paul Dunne was at Punchestown Racecourse for the complimentary Welcome Back afternoon of racing

“On behalf of the entire team here at Punchestown Racecourse it gives me great pleasure to welcome you back to racing for the first time in over eighteen months,” Punchestown Racecourse CEO Conor O’Neill commented in the run-up to the day’s racing. “This is a day which we have all been eagerly awaiting and we are absolutely delighted that it has finally come, so that we can give you a Punchestown welcome in every sense of the word.”

Ballygallon Stud owner Belinda Strudwick (righ) and her daughter Alexandra after their racehorse Esculenta placed at the Welcome Back race day at Punchestown Racecourse


The legendary Dick O’Sullivan, President of Punchestown Racecourse (l-r), racecourse CEO Conor O’Neill and Head of Racecourse Management Justin Carty at the Welcome Back race day

The racecourse went ahead with closure in February last year, just before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in Ireland. While fixtures resumed earlier this year, public attendance has only been in a very tight capacity until recently as government-placed restrictions have begun to ease.

“To say we have missed welcoming, meeting and chatting with you our sponsors, clients, supporters and members would be a massive understatement,” explained Conor O’Neill. “It simply was not the same without you. The support and goodwill that we have received was nothing short of overwhelming throughout these difficult times. It was with very grateful appreciation by all the (Punchestown Racecourse) team and certainly something which we will never forget.”


Irish Connemara pony trainers and very stylish mother and daughter Bernie and Dawn Leadon-Bolger. Their entire outfits sourced through carefully curated, sustainable shopping were around €20 each. Note the well themed detail in Dawn’s dress coat

Irish National Hunt racegoers will enjoy their own welcome back to racing on 12 October when the season opens at Punchestown Racecourse.


Tags: Punchestown Racecourse #irishflatracing #irishnationalhunt

Image credits: Kim Mullahey

Kim Mullahey

Kim Mullahey is Pynck.com’s Ireland Correspondent. She holds an honours undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Chicago and has taught Adult Education Creative Writing Studies. Through a media career spanning nearly 25 years Kim has written and photographed regional news, national and international horse sports, fashion and lifestyle. Kim lives with her husband and son in Kildare Ireland, and a stray marmalade cat who has adopted the family.

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