Major Punchestown redevelopment enters second phase
Punchestown has started phase two of its €6.2 million racecourse redevelopment, with work on a new grandstand due to be completed by March 2018, in time for the five-day festival in late April.
The redevelopment is part-funded through the Horse Racing Ireland racecourse capital development scheme, with additional funding, approved at Monday’s HRI board meeting, bringing to 40 per cent the HRI contribution to the cost of the project.
The principal feature of phase two will be a new grandstand in the area close to the final fence incorporating a dedicated owners' and trainers' lounge, public bars and additional toilets and betting facilities. Landscaping works and upgrade of the Tarmac areas around the parade ring will also form part of the development which will cost an estimated €4.4m.
Brian Kavanagh, HRI chief executive, said: "The board of Horse Racing Ireland are happy to approve funding for phase two of Punchestown’s development project; this investment is the third largest amount of grant aid allocated to a racecourse under HRI’s current capital development programme.
"I think that reflects the tireless work of the board of Punchestown, the management team at the track, and its owners the Kildare Hunt Club."
Phase two will also include completion of the ground and first floor bar refurbishments, with themed areas creating more intimate settings and an upgrade to the turnstile facilities.
Popular elements of the current festival facilities will be retained and incorporated into the new design, including the hospitality pavilions and canopy-covered Sky Bar.
Dick O’Sullivan, manager of Punchestown, said: "Punchestown is the home of Irish jump racing and we are conscious that the venue must live up to such a title.
"The customer experience is paramount to maintain and grow attendances and now is the time to upgrade our facilities. With the support of our trustees, Kildare Hunt Club, sponsors, Horse Racing Ireland and of course our loyal customers, we look forward with confidence to improving the facilities at Punchestown."
The track enjoyed a successful 2017 festival with a total attendance of 122,557, an increase of seven per cent on 2016.