PUNCHESTOWN Racecourse will again stage the Up The Yard Challenge Race for Irish stable and stud staff on Sunday, February 19th.

First introduced in 2017, the concept was to host a challenge race to provide an opportunity for stable and stud staff to achieve the ambition of riding in a race at the home of Irish jump racing.

Event organiser and Punchestown sponsorship manager Leona Hughes said: “It’s such a competitive industry and we all know some talented horsemen and women who ride out every day but for whatever reason didn’t go on to become jockeys.

“The Up The Yard Challenge gives them a chance to take centre stage and show everyone what they can do.”

Hughes continued: “We encourage anyone who always wanted to ride on the track to check out the qualifying criteria and then be brave and get nominated!”

The Up The Yard Challenge will take place after the last official race on Sunday, February 19th over a distance of around one mile and seven furlongs.

Yards and studs around the country are asked to nominate riders that meet the criteria by December 16th. From the nominees a final list of 16 riders and four reserves will be selected.

All selected riders must qualify to take part by completing a one-day charity race assessment at the RACE centre in Kildare. This is organised directly by Punchestown and the RACE team.

The inaugural running of the Up The Yard Challenge took place in 2017 and was won by Louise Magee on Taglietelle representing the Gordon Elliott team. Camilla Sharples on Markhan landed the spoils the following year for the same Cullentra establishment with Jimmy Finn’s stable taking the 2019 honours.

The Up The Yard Challenge is part of Punchestown’s continued commitment to stable staff.

Hughes added: “We are delighted to bring back this race. We’ve had plenty of interest and enquiries over recent years but for obvious reasons we couldn’t hold the race until now.

“We work alongside the stable staff and wherever possible we would always try to source a sponsor for the stable yard canteen to ensure that everyone working that day gets a complimentary meal.

“In addition, we recently worked with Midland Travel who very generously sponsored an amazing prize of a trip to Paris next summer for someone working in the yard over the Winter Festival weekend.

“At the Festival Red Mills hosted pop-up interactive zones with prizes and giveaways in the yard.

“It’s all part of an on-going programme which will hopefully include upgrades to facilities following our current major track project which is taking up available resources but we are always planning for the future here at Punchestown.”

Up The Yard Challenge Race Checklist

  • 1.Nominated riders must be 18 years of age and over.
  • 2.Nominated riders must not have ridden under rules on the track/point-to-point in any jurisdiction prior to the event.
  • 3.Riders must be 12st or under with an allowance of 5lbs for mares.
  • 4.From the nominees, 20 riders will be selected. There will be 16 participants and four reserves.
  • 5.Riders must qualify to ride by passing a charity race one-day competency assessment in January at RACE in Kildare. This will be organised with the riders by Punchestown.
  • 6.Nominations must be submitted by email with sign off by the trainer whose yard the rider will represent.
  • Nominations (including name, date of birth, contact number, nominating yard) for riders that meet the above criteria must be submitted by Friday, December 16th to Leona Hughes on lhughes@punchestown.com