Punchestown Racecourse History

The earliest record of a meeting at Punchestown was on Tuesday 2nd April 1850 when the meeting was billed as ‘The Kildare and National Hunt Steeplechases’ following a proposal put forward by the 3rd Marquis of Drogheda. The meeting was popular and well supported, although like all courses, it was looking for additional sponsorship. The Kildare Hunt Group requested support from the Great Southern and Western Railway in 1855, and the railway donated £20 but it was conditional on the course making it a two day meeting.  In 1862 the Conyngham Cup course was opened, but it took a further century before the meeting became known as Punchestown. The highlight of the racing year is the Punchestown Festival which now rivals the Cheltenham Festival. The principal race at the track is the Punchestown Gold Cup, although it hosts a total of fourteen grade 1 races. Currently the course stages 15 fixtures annually.

Although Punchestown remains a thriving racecourse, nearby Howth Park closed its gates for the final time in 1842.
The Irish racecourse on Howth Park, a suburb of Dublin, was the seat of the Earl of Howth who lived in Howth Castle. The course had its own Howth Park Race Club, grandstand, loyal group of local Corinthian supporters and a powerful list of patrons. The first races were organised by the 3rd Earl of Howth in August 1831, with the card consisting of a series of matches and steeplechases. Meetings continued for the next 11 years. The final three day meeting was staged from Tuesday 20th to Thursday 22nd September 1842 and opened with the Howth Park Warblers Sweepstake which went to Young Rainbow for Mr T Kelly. The principal race, the Vaughan Goblet, was won appropriately enough by Mr Vaughan’s Pickpocket. Racing then ceased at the racecourse, although Howth races did combine with Baldoyle to stage races on the Baldoyle course from 1853.
I am grateful to Colin Turner for the 1867 Kildare Hunt Steeplechase course plan from his impressive collection.
I am grateful to Google Maps (© Googlemap) for permission to use the map shown below.

ISBN 978-0-9957632-0-3

652 pages

774 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-1-0

352 pages

400 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-2-7

180 pages

140 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-3-4

264 pages

235 former courses

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