BALLYMORE DAY, SATURDAY 2nd May
First Race – 1.10pm to accommodate Rugby Coverage
Sports enthusiasts will be delighted to hear that Punchestown Racecourse have changed the start time on the final day’s racing to 1.10pm allowing race goers to enjoy top class racing followed by live coverage of the Leinster versus Munster rugby match. Feature race of the day is of course, the €130,000 Ballymore Champion 4-year-old Hurdle as sponsored by Sean Mulryan of BALLYMORE.
What the hell, there’s no festival in Ballymore Eustace but Saturday’s racing promises to be a celebration of family fun, top quality racing with plenty of activities for the children including Pony Rides, Live Stage Shows featuring a High School Musical production, a Fun Fair, Bouncy Castles, Face Painting and much more. It was wonderful last year to see local children all dressed up for the Fancy Dress….. There was inter-active fun organised throughout the entire afternoon and no child was heard saying: “I’m bored…”
So make the best of it – with the exception of Walking Sunday, Elizabeth’s sponsored Fancy Dress and CDA Children’s Party, there’s very little for children without a festival so Saturday is Festival Day for Ballymore! The emphasis is on racing yes, but all round family entertainment sponsored by BALLYMORE. Children entering the Fancy Dress at the races must register on arrival and are then asked to model their costumes in the parade ring for judging before the first race.
The atmosphere is sure to be electric at the racecourse where - at the end of the eight race card - sports enthusiasts will be able to enjoy live coverage of the big game on five giant screens, 120 television monitors and plasma screens with ample seating, access to ten public bars and food outlets.
Announcing the new start time Dick O Sullivan said “The final day of the festival is always a great celebration of sport, families and the local community. We will have a crowd of around 19,000 at Punchestown so the atmosphere is going to be electric! It looks like Punchestown is going to be the best gathering outside Croke park on Saturday 2nd May!”
Commenting on the earlier starting time to accommodate rugby fans, Leinster star Bernard Jackman was impressed with the move and commented “If I wasn’t fortunate enough to be at Croke Park on 2nd May – I’d love to be at Punchestown”.
School Art Competition
The Ballymore art competition offered 19 primary schools the opportunity to submit a winner and runner up prize from each class with the overall winner and runner up being chosen by an impartial judging panel. There was great prizes on offer for the schools and winning entrants with all children who entered receiving two admission tickets, compliments of Sean Mulryan’s Ballymore.
Best Dressed Competition
Newbridge Silverware are offering €5,000 of prizes per day from Tuesday to Thursday of raceweek with two more finalists to be selected on Ladies Day, Friday 1st when the Overall Winner will be announced and take away €30,000 worth of Newbridge Silverware to be won. The diet I was going to start last month has temporarily been deferred…….but I am confident The Perfectos will not go un-noticed…………..(for all the wrong reasons!)
The Irish National Hunt Festival at Punchestown from Tuesday 28th April to Saturday 2nd May. General admission €30, OAPs and Students €15. Start times Tuesday to Friday: 3.45pm. Start Time Saturday @ 1.10pm.
Where do you start. Maybe with a crystal ball, a pin or a hotline to “the Bunny “above. We only see the early closing entries for about 11 races over the five days. But here goes, go n-eiri and tadh libh.
In the very first race The Fr. Sean Breen Memorial all we can do is hope for a good run for local hopes. Traditionally the Valentines have always been there or thereabouts with Paddy Quinlan one to watch if he has a runner. The Boylesports has Cooldine, Joncol, Aran Concerto to name a few with Trafford Lad having a big shout. Keep an eye for Alex Ferguson if his What a Friend goes. In the Herald Novice Hurdle W. Mullins is triple handed at the moment with Mikael, Hurricane Fly and Cousin Vinny. Go Native, El Dancer and American Trilogy could leave Ruby with a riding headache. The showbiz fraternity could be represented with James Nesbit’s Riverside Theatre entered by Nicky Henderson. In the main feature the Kerrygold, I lean towards for Padydepalsterer, if Tom Cooper opts for this race over the Cathal Ryan Memorial, but Big Zeb, based on his Fairyhouse exploits is also worthy of consideration.
Michael O’Leary could be smiling if Mouse can get War of Attrition fit in time for the highlight of DayTwo. The Guinness Gold Cup. Imperial Commander will be hoping to deprive the Ryanair boss having taken a few quid off him when winning the airlines Grade 1 at Cheltenham, with eight cross channel entries all the eyes will be on Barbers Shop owned by Mrs. Windsor if he takes his place. I hope we can keep this one at home with Notre Pere.
As mentioned before the Cathal Ryan Memorial could be Pady’s target on Thursday, Willie Mullins has three in Barker, Deutschland and Jayo. Kalahari King Oh Crick and Free world but I think I’msinginthe blues might ensure tat Ruby is not, after this one. Thursday’s highlight is the Grade 1 Ladbrokes World Hurdle. Last years question remains will Puchestowns run at Punchestown? Nicky Hendersons charge has a bit to find after the Cheltenham equivalent. Blazing Bailey, Ogee an Fair Along could be overseas runners with Fivefor three and Ninetieth Minute, who was successful for Day Russell in the Cotswolds will be hoping that this one is not for export. It will be a cracker.
Mayday, Mayday, Friday, if God and Nuala Carey are kind to us sees three cracking contests The Feature the Grade 1 Land Rover novice Hurdle again sees a few good English runners, Copper Blue form Alan King’s yard may be the pick. Betfair, a great supporter of Punchestown put ninety thousand euros in the pot for their Novice Chase. The handicapper, Noel O’Brien will have done his sums to ensure a good race for Dick O’Sullivan and the Betfair crew. Friday’s highlight The Rabobank Hurdle sees Punjabi back for this year’s renewal. Joining, Solwhit, Ebazyian, Sizing Europe and Ger Grehan’s little Won in the Dark. C’mon Ger & Sabrina.
And getting to the end of a marathon week. Sean Mulryan’s Ballymore underwrite the feature Four Year Old Hurdle on Saturday. No contest here as I would love to see the Boy from Ballybay and theBreenr’s ould pal Oliver Brady’s, Ebadyian romp home. No flash photo’s during the race and no singing afterwards, right? A big pot of 120 thousand euros may see some of the previous weeks horses that did not get a run out go for the Whitewater Hurdle,
Look it, with info so scant you would want to be Old Moore to pick winners. Many people will say follow Ruby, and a lot of other jockeys do follow him! A few other basic rules, Always look out for Enda in the La Touices, although it didn’t work last year! Any horse with the name Mullins after it in a bumper, but watch the market! And especially this year, “Cronin’s Crook” in the Charity Race will have Cronin on it. Hope your liathrodi are big enough Niall! Me, I just love that I have been spared for another year. I’ll miss himself and Micheal Murphy and my own father as I head in on the Tuesday. But, we are going to have a great week. Dick O’Sullivan, Richie, Hilary and Shona are all working their socks off. Sean Mulryan is staying, in these difficult times. Go for one day, or four or five. World class equine entertainment on your door step. If you miss it, well, it will be your loss.
This column was written, with a bit of celestial help, by Tim Ryan.
MIXED REACTION TO LATE START AT PUNCHESTOWN
First Race 3.45pm Tues-Fri; Saturday early start at 1.10pm
“Ha, ha, April Fool………” was my reaction to the announcement of the later starting time for this year’s National Hunt Racing at Punchestown. My sister Laura swore she heard it on the news and from Barry in The Ballymore Inn but I was convinced this was a publicity stunt by management and that a second announcement would be made the following day saying “Stupid - of course, we are not going to start the races that late – sure half the punters will be sloshed by then…..” But no, ‘twas I was left feeling stupid and my sister Laura was right – again. Very mixed reaction from restauranteurs and publicans alike so far.
Many restaurants had planned Apres-racing Specials, Evening Early Bird Menus or a set selection of main courses in anticipation of the influx of hungry race-goers. But the late start of 3.45 means the punters will not be exiting the racecourse by 6pm - more likely to be nearer 8pm - when most food houses would normally have the first sitting finished and be preparing for the next ……
Instead of an evening Early Bird Special, they are introducing Lunch Specials and there’s plenty out there to choose from with great value offered from our own local hostelries. Best plan of action is to meet up as normal, have a proper lunch instead of a late breakfast and then off to the races……….. Whether the publicans lose out on drinking time remains to be seen – as with restaurants, the pubs may simply have more punters in earlier in the day and less hours at night. We are all creatures of habit so it takes a bit of adapting but many publicans are betting that starting times will be reversed next year and will revert back to normal.
Pat Murphy’s is hosting music every night from Tuesday to Sunday of raceweek and on Wednesday, its going to an ABBA night. I can’t wait to see if The Perfectos take this on – can’t you see us all, white tight fit bell-bottoms, halter necks and glitter………..What do you mean, “Same as usual” ………the bell-bottoms could be a challenge though………
Even without a Festival Week, there’s no excuse for you not to enjoy the craic locally. Check out the food specials in The Ballymore Inn, The Thatch & The Village Take Away, Poulaphouca or The Ardenode; if you’re not going to have a full meal, then all three local outlets offer excellent delis with full Irish Breakfast Rolls etc. Support your local traders – they need your business and we need them to stay trading!
Mick Murphy’s is always a lively spot during the races with a bit of spontaneous trad music likely to kick off and The Thatch will have live music on Friday and Saturday of raceweek. We are down to four pubs now in the village, two of which are also restaurants – we don’t need to see any more closing… If you’re booking a taxi, try the locals first – they also offer bus services to transport groups to and from the racecourse.
The Perfectos are hitting the Racecourse on Wednesday 29th April – you have been warned….
Local hairdresser Elizabeth Deegan has generously offered to sponsor a Children's Fancy Dress in association with the Community Development Association. The Children’s Party & Fancy Dress will be held at The Resource Centre on Saturday 25th April from 3pm – 6pm. Children aged eight and under are welcome to enter the Fancy Dress; winning art will be displayed from Hollywood and Ballymore Eustace National Schools competitions.