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.
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In addition to the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs, which is covered in detail below, Punchestown plays host to 13 other Grade 1 races throughout the season. The Morgiana Hurdle over 2 miles was first run in 1988 when won by Grabel, trained by Paddy Mullins and ridden by Tony Mullins. The Champion 4-year-old Hurdle, over 2 miles, was first run in 1980 when won by Pearlstone, trained by Paddy Mullins and ridden by Sean Treacy. The Mares Champion Hurdle, over 2 miles 2 furlongs, was first contested in 2004 when won by Stashedaway, trained by Michael O'Brien and ridden by I J Power. The Punchestown Champion Hurdle over 2 miles was first run in 1992 when won by Istabraq, trained by Aidan O'Brien and ridden by Charlie Swan. The Ryanair Novice Chase over 2 miles was first contested in 1992 when Classical Charm was victorious, trained by Al O'Connell and ridden by Ken Morgan. The World Hurdle Series over 3 miles was first run in 1995 when won by Derrymoyle, trained by Michael Cunningham and ridden by Mark Dwyer. The Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle over 3 miles was first staged in 2005 when won by Bright Gas, trained by R P Burns and ridden by Barry Geraghty. The Champion Irish National Hunt Flat Race over 2 miles was first run in 1992 when Tiananmen Square was victorious, trained by Noel Meade and ridden by Tim Hyde. The prestigious Punchestown Gold Cup over an extended 3 miles 1 furlong was first held in 1999 when won by Imperial Call, trained by Raymond Hurley and ridden by Ruby Walsh. The Herald Champion Novice Hurdle over 2 miles was first staged in 1980 when Deep Gale was successful, trained by Edward O'Grady and ridden by Frank Codd. The Punchestown Champion Chase over 2 miles was first contested in 1980 when won by Paddy Bouler, trained by Pat Rooney and ridden by S Lynch. The Growise Champion Novice Chase (Delta Insurance Group Novice Chase) over 3 miles 1 furlong was first run in 2007 when won by Offshore Account, trained by Charlie Swan and ridden by Denis O'Regan. The Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle over 2 miles 4 furlongs was first held in 1995 when Treble Bob was triumphant, trained by Dermot Weld and ridden by Richard Dunwoody.

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The John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase, over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards, was first contested in 1968, but was renamed in December 1998 in honour of the amateur jockey and assistant racehorse trainer John Durkan who died of leukaemia in January 1998. A full list of winners is shown below.
1968 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles was won by Bold Fencer (5/1) owned by Mrs Miles Valentine, trained by A S O'Brien and ridden by Joe Crowley
1969 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles was won by Kinloch Brae (1/2 fav) owned by Anne, Duchess of Westminster, trained by Willie O'Grady and ridden by Tim Hyde
1970 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles was won by East Bound (6/4 fav) trained by Tom Dreaper and ridden by Sean Barker
1971 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles was won by Straight Fort owned by George Ansley, trained by Jim Dreaper and ridden by Eddie Wright
1972 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles was won by Straight Fort owned by George Ansley, trained by Jim Dreaper and ridden by Eddie Wright
1973 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Lean Forward trained by Jim Dreaper and ridden by P McLoughlin
1974 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Lough Inagh (6/4) owned by Tony Riddell Martin, trained by Jim Dreaper and ridden by Sean Barker
1975 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Captain Christy (1/2 fav) owned by Major Joe Pidcock and Mrs Jane Samuel, trained by Pat Taaffe and ridden by Bobby Coonan
1976 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Fort Fox (11/8 fav) trained by J R Cox and ridden by Frank Berry
1977 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Fort Fox (2/1) trained by J R Cox and ridden by Thomas McGivern
1978 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Jack of Trumps owned by John P McManus, trained by Edward O'Grady and ridden by Niall Madden senior
1979 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Jack of Trumps owned by John P McManus, trained by Edward O'Grady and ridden by Niall Madden senior
1980 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Chinrullah trained by Mick O'Toole and ridden by Niall Madden senior
1981 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Tacroy (10/1) trained by Michael O'Brien and ridden by Tommy Carmody
1982 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Chorelli trained by Michael O'Brien and ridden by P Walsh
1983 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Ballinacurra Lad trained by John Fowler and ridden by P Leech
1984 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Bobsline owned by Bob Kelsey, trained by Francis Flood and ridden by Frank Berry
1985 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Dawn Run owned by Charmian Hill, trained by Paddy Mullins and ridden by Anthony Mullins
1986 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Bobsline (6/4 fav) owned by Bob Kelsey, trained by Francis Flood and ridden by Frank Berry
1987 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Excursion (11/2) owned by Mrs R Stewart, trained by G Stewart and ridden by John Queally 7 ran
1988 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Hungary Hur (3/1 co fav) owned by Miss D Threadwell, trained by John Mulhern and ridden by Tommy Carmody 8 ran
1989 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Maid of Money (2/1 fav) owned by Mrs H A McCormick, trained by John Fowler and ridden by Anthony Powell 8 ran
1990 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Carvills Hill (8/13 fav) owned by Paul Green, trained by Jim Dreaper and ridden by Kevin Morgan 6 ran
1991 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Garamycin (11/2) owned by P G Garahy, trained by Willie Deacon and ridden by Brendan Sheridan 8 ran
1992 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Gold Options (10/1) owned by J McCaghy, trained by Peter McCreery and ridden by Mark Dwyer 9 ran
1993 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 5 furlongs was won by Cahervillahow (3/1) owned by Mrs Miles Valentine, trained by Mouse Morris and ridden by Norman Williamson 11 ran
1994 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 5 furlongs was won by Merry Gale (9/4 co fav) owned by Herb M Stanley, trained by Jim Dreaper and ridden by Kevin O'Brien 5 ran
1995 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Merry Gale (6/4 fav) owned by Herb M Stanley, trained by Jim Dreaper and ridden by Richard Dunwoody 7 ran
1996 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Royal Mountbrowne (7/1) owned by Mrs J O'Kane, trained by Aidan O'Brien and ridden by Charlie Swan 6 ran
1997 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards, run as the Hot Power Chase at Fairyhouse, was won by Dorans Pride (2/5 fav) owned by T J Doran, trained by Michael Hourigan and ridden by Richard Dunwoody 5 ran
1998 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Imperial Call (13/8) owned by Lisselan Farms Ltd, trained by Raymond Hurley and ridden by Paul Carberry 8 ran
1999 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Buck Rogers (16/1) owned by Mrs S Bowens, trained by Victor Bowen and ridden by Ken Whelan 8 ran
2000 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Native Upmanship (9/10 fav) owned by Mrs John Magnier, trained by Arthur Moore and ridden by Conor O’Dwyer 4 ran
2001 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Florida Pearl (5/1) owned by Mrs Violet O'Leary, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Paul Carberry 4 ran
2002 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Native Upmanship (5/4 fav) owned by Mrs John Magnier, trained by Arthur Moore and ridden by Conor O'Dwyer 5 ran
2003 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Beef or Salmon (4/5 fav) owned by B J Craig, trained by Michael Hourigan and ridden by Timmy Murphy 7 ran
2004 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Kicking King (2/1) owned by Conor Clarkson, trained by Tom Taaffe and ridden by Barry Geraghty 6 ran
2005 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Hi Cloy (7/1) owned by Mrs S McCloy, trained by Michael Hourigan and ridden by Andrew McNamara 8 ran
2006 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by In Compliance (5/1) owned by S Mulryan, trained by Michael O'Brien and ridden by Barry Geraghty 8 ran
2007 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by The Listener (evens fav) owned by Old Moss Farm, trained by Robert Alner and ridden by Daryl Jacob 10 ran
2008 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Noland (9/4 joint fav) owned by J Hales, trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Sam Thomas 8 ran
2009 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Joncol (9/4 fav) owned by Mrs K Browne, trained by Paul Nolan and ridden by Alain Cawley 5 ran
2010 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards, run at Fairyhouse, was won by Tranquil Sea (5/2) owned by D Cox, trained by Edward O'Grady and ridden by Andrew McNamara 8 ran
2011 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Rubi Light (5/2 joint fav) owned by W Hennessy, trained by Robert Hennessy and ridden by Andrew Lynch 7 ran
2012 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Flemenstar (evens fav) owned by Stephen Curran, trained by Peter Casey and ridden by Andrew Lynch 3 ran
2013 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Arvika Ligeonniere (4/7 fav) owned by Mrs S Ricci, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Ruby Walsh 3 ran
2014 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Don Cossack (13/8) owned by Gigginstown House Stud, trained by Gordon Elliott and ridden by Brian O'Connell 6 ran
2015 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Djakadam (7/4 fav) owned by Mrs S Ricci, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Ruby Walsh 7 ran
2016 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Djakadam (4/5 fav) owned by Mrs S Ricci, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Ruby Walsh 5 ran
2017 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Sizing John (2/1) owned by Ann and Alan Potts Ltd, trained by Jessica Harrington and ridden by Robbie Power 6 ran
2018 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Min (evens fav) owned by Mrs S Ricci, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Ruby Walsh 5 ran
2019 The Punchestown Chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 40 yards was won by Min (8/11 fav) owned by Mrs S Ricci, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Paul Townend 9 ran

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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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