PUNCHESTOWN CEO Conor O’Neill is very hopeful of a record breaking attendance at next week’s five-day festival following extremely positive pre-booking ticket sales.

Fairyhouse reported a very healthy crowd of over 15,000 for the Irish Grand National fixture on Easter Monday, with good weather and a pent-up yearning to get back racing after pandemic-led closures over the last years the likely main contributing factors. Just like Fairyhouse’s Easter Festival, Punchestown’s main event hasn’t hosted a crowd since 2019 and ticket sales have soared.

“Our advance ticket sales today (Thursday) in comparison to 2019 are currently 80% ahead of where we were for this day in 2019,” O’Neill said. “Obviously you won’t get a full picture of that until you see how the turnstiles perform next week, particularly with a possible cultural change and habitual change with buying online, but we’re certainly in a very strong position, and with the weather forecast looking promising and brilliant racing, it looks like the stars are aligning for a great week.”

It was at the previously attended Punchestown Festival in 2019 that the highest attendance on a single day was recorded at 37,206. Over the five days, 136,880 people attended the festival.

The 2020 festival was cancelled and last year’s meeting was held behind closed doors. All races at this year’s €3.1 million festival are sponsored and corporate hospitality has been sold out.

“We took a strategic decision in September that this year’s Punchestown Festival is the most important Punchestown Festival for the next five if not 10 years,” O’Neill explained “There has been no people through the turnstiles for nearly three years so it’s extremely important that we re-establish the event and get people back.

“We took the decision to maintain and hold our 2020 prices in order to rebuild the business and thankfully that seems to be working well for us. The support, be it from our sponsors and our clients, not just this year but indeed over the last couple of years has been fantastic and we’re very much appreciative of it.

“We’ve always said the people make Punchestown and I think the past few years have proved that more than ever. The team here have put their heart and soul into this year’s festival and we can’t wait to welcome everybody back. Let’s get the party started.”


Watering has taken place on the track regularly in the last month and the ground is currently good to yielding, yielding in places on the hurdle and chase tracks, and good on the cross country track.

Unfortunately it was announced early in the week that Constitution Hill would not be travelling over to take on Honeysuckle in Friday’s Punchestown Champion Hurdle.

However there are a number of big clashes during the week and as ever, the Willie Mullins team looks set to dominate.

Mullins had a record 19 winners at the festival last season and he currently has the favourite for nine of the 12 Grade 1 races.