O'Sullivan hails Saturday switch as crowds soar
The best horses came and the crowds followed. The overall attendance at the 2017 Punchestown festival was 122,557, up considerably from the 2016 figure of 114,438, and the track's general manager Dick O'Sullivan believes adding Saturday to the festival has been a big bonus.
Saturday's crowd was the sharpest rise of the week with 34,370 coming through the turnstiles to enjoy family day at the track. That attendance was an improvement of 4,335 from the 2016 crowd.
The fifth day was added to the festival in 2008 and O’Sullivan feels it is working based on Saturday’s impressive figures.
O'Sullivan said: "It was a fabulous week from start to finish. We had excellent crowds every day and to have gone from around 1,400 people when we had a non-festival Saturday to more than 34,000 this year is remarkable.
"Around 25 per cent of our racegoers have come from the UK and we have been delighted to welcome them and some fabulous horses from across the Irish Sea."
Thirty-eight races, which included 12 Grade 1s, served up some of the most thrilling finishes ever seen at Punchestown and there was no more nail-biting conclusion than the closing stages of the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup with Sizing John denying Djakadam and Coneygree.
"We saw some great finishes and I think Wednesday's Coral Punchestown Gold Cup was the best race I can remember seeing. All credit to Sizing John and Djakadam but also to the team behind Coneygree, who put in a superb performance," O'Sullivan said.