Punchestown Racecourse Guide

Punchestown is the most famous and prestigious National Hunt track in Ireland and the April festival sees the culmination of the National Hunt season and attracts some of the best horses from across Europe to the card. Located just outside Naas in Co. Kildare, racing has been happening at its current location since 1824.

One of the many unique features of this track is the cross country "banks course”, which if you haven't seen before, is worth the admission alone. Patrons are allowed to frequent the middle of the track during the race and get right up close to the action, as horses tackle a variety of different fences, bushes, walls, and banks. It’s a racetrack unique to Ireland and to Punchestown.

During the Punchestown Festival, it’s easy to get to the racetrack, as they provide coach services directly from Dublin to Punchestown. There are also a higher number of buses available during the festival, so they make it quite accessible for racegoers. In terms of rail stations, Sallins will be your closest, and again, there is a shuttle available from here but only during the festival. If you’re going for a non-festival race, most services end in Naas town, which is approximately a five-minute drive from the track.

Map

Swap Start/End

Ticket Prices

General Admission prices for the course are as follows - Adults €10, OAP/Student €7, and Children under 14 are Free. Festival ticket prices vary depending on the day though and the quality of racing on show. You can find more information on the Punchestown course website where you can also purchase your tickets in advance.

The Course

Punchestown is an undulating right handed, galloping track, which features a steady climb in the last five furlongs to the line. The bends are very tight especially on the inner hurdles course where a sharp downhill right after the finish-line can cause major balance issues for even the most experienced chaser.

The undulations of the chase course tend to test the horses more so than the 11 fences that are dotted around the track. The final two in the home straight are positioned quite close together and can be tricky for a tiring horse on the final climb to the line with a run in of just over 1 furlong. Because of the sharp nature of both the chase and the hurdle track, it pays to be ridden handy as opposed to being dropped out the back, where it can be hard to make up the ground.

The cross-country course in the middle of Punchestown is just an amazing sight. It is a long twisting course with both tight left and right handed turns, including a variety of beautiful and testing obstacles with only a couple of them being jumped more than once. Only the final brush fence is located on the racecourse proper and it is often a scene for older veterans to regather former glories for some great prize money.

Major Meetings at Punchestown

Punchestown is the scene of 17 of the highest quality National Hunt meetings you will see anywhere in the world. The highlights of which would be the April five-day festival, featuring no fewer than 12 Grade 1 races and sees the stars of the jumping season come out one last time before the summer break.

Dining and Hospitality

Packages and pricing for Hospitality varies between Festival and non Festival meetings with Non-Festival deals starting at €69 per person for:

  • Admission and restaurant level badge
  • Four-Course lunch
  • Race card
  • Guest Tipster
  • Private Tote Betting Facilities
  • Closed Circuit TV
  • Reserved table and seating for the day

Festival deals are more expensive, starting at €129 and rising depending on the day. This includes:

  • Reserved Car Parking
  • Admission and Reserved Enclosure Badges
  • Four-Course Served Lunch
  • Afternoon Mini Bites
  • Race card and tipster
  • Private betting and bar facilities
  • Closed Circuit Television

Aside from these two deals, there are numerous fast food and sit down restaurants located throughout the enclosure, as well as various bars, stalls, coffee shops, and sweet shops. There is also various private suites on offer and, for large parties, the trackside pavilion is available for hire with more information on the track website.