Stable staff set for fun and fireworks on appreciation day at Punchestown
Punchestown Racecourse is set to pay tribute to Ireland's stud and stable staff by hosting a challenge race and fun-filled competitions for industry workers on the first day of their Winter festival – a meeting which has been dedicated to the backbone of racing.
The 'Up The Yard' initiative takes place on Saturday November 18, with 16 stables going head-to-head in front of the Punchestown crowd in the challenge race, while there will also be live music and free admission to industry workers.
Punchestown's marketing and communications manager Shona Dreaper said: "You always hear that our stable staff are the unsung heroes and the backbone of the industry, but you have to do something about it.
"We were awarded the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Award for best racecourse and we wanted to give something back, and so the Up The Yard stud and stable staff appreciation day was born."
Lively activities for yards across the country include a team relay with wheelbarrow driving skills, a 'sing-along battle', a best turned out showdown in the parade ring and the much-anticipated stable staff national – a test of accuracy and speed involving horse shoe tossing, an egg and spoon race and a hobby horse sprint.
Pleased with the backing the initiative has received, Dreaper said: "Anyone we've approached about supporting this project has been extremely keen to help. From our major sponsors like Ladbrokes, Goffs, the Racing Post, Horse Racing Ireland and Connolly's Red Mills – right down to the guy who makes all the food in the canteen for the yard staff."
The winner of the stable staff challenge race will pick up a €3,000 voucher for TRI Equestrian to be used by their team, while each rider will collect €100. Dreaper said: "We all know that in every yard there are lads and girls who have always held the ambition to ride in a race or make it as a jockey, but for one reason or another didn't get the breaks – this is their chance to race on the track and in front of a crowd at Punchestown."
She added: "The quality of stable staff is phenomenal – these brilliant horsemen and women have loads of ability."
Stable staff can access the track with their AIR card but Punchestown is happy to send additional tickets in advance to ensure all team members from yards attend, with those interested advised to contact Leona on +353 (0)45 897704.
"There's going to be plenty of craic with free admission on the day," said Dreaper.
"We want everyone to attend; the farrier, the guy who drives the tractor, the girls from the office – it's all about the team behind the scenes.
"We need everyone to get behind this and make sure that stable staff have an annual event to celebrate their hard work."
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