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Up The Yard At Punchestown Racecourse

Irish Thoroughbred Breeders' Association are delighted to partner with Punchestown Racecourse for their Winter Festival 2018.
Up The Yard At Punchestown Racecourse

We are delighted to offer members a unique day's racing at Punchestown on Saturday 17th November featuring the 2018 renewal of Up The Yard Stable Staff Challenge.

ITBA Next Generation Members can avail of free tickets to this event though our social media platforms by private message, tickets will be offered on a first come first serves basis.

Winter Is Coming To Town

Punchestown Winter Festival 2018

Featuring the Grade 1 €100,000 Unibet Morgiana Hurdle

The Up The Yard Stable Staff Challenge

The Berney Bros. Huntsman’s Challenge in aid of Irish Injured Jockeys

A Very Vintage Winter Market & Live Music

The 2018 Punchestown Winter Festival will take place on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th November. Racegoers can expect to see many of last season’s equine stars make an appearance over two days of quality racing where the GR1 Unibet Morgiana Hurdle is the feature contest with an increased prize fund of €100,000 up from €85,000. A total of fourteen are entered for the weekend highlight at the preliminary entry stage and they include Gigginstown House’s Samcro, Punchestown Festival BETDAQ Champion Hurdle winner Supasundae and the Henry de Bromhead trained Identity Thief. Of course no running of the Unibet Morgiana would be complete without a strong team from champion trainer Willie Mullins who will bid for an eighth consecutive and ninth overall win in the race. Closutton stablemates make up half of the preliminary entries and are headed by last year’s winner Faugheen along with Melon, Sharjah, Wicklow Brave, Mr Adjudicator, Saldier and Laurina.

Supasundae’s trainer Jessica Harrington hopes to make the Unibet Morgiana his season debut “ Supasundae is on target for the Unibet Morgiana. It is quite a while since we won the race with Moscow Flyer so we are certainly due another shot at this stage!”

Punchestown have welcomed Betway as the new sponsors of the GR2 €44,500 Betway Craddockstown Novice Chase which will take centre on Saturday 17th November, a card that also features the €30,000 Frontline Security Grabel Mares Listed Hurdle.

The Punchestown Winter Festival is also the first opportunity of the season to catch the thrills and spills of the famous cross country track when the EMS Copiers Risk Of Thunder Steeplechase opens the card on Sunday 18th November.

Full entries for the 2018 Punchestown Festival will be released at 12.30pm on Tuesday 13th November.

Up The Yard Stable Staff Challenge 2018

Whilst graded and listed action will be the focus for racing fans, the Punchestown Winter festival will also play host to two very special challenge events. The second running of the Up The Yard Stable Staff Challenge will be the final contest on Saturday 17th where 16 contenders will go to post. The Up The Yard concept was launched in 2017 as a gesture of gratitude to all those working, hands on, each day in yards and studs throughout the country. Each rider has taken part in an official assessment in RACE as part of the UTY qualifying process.

The first Up The Yard Challenge race winner was Louise Magee who represented Gordon Elliott Racing. Louise, a young mum of two sets of twin boys and accomplished inter county GAA player rode Tagliatelle to victory. Looking back on the experience Louise said “It was a fantastic opportunity for stable staff to experience the other side of racing. The whole day was so well run and the build up to the race was very exciting. To win the race was an amazing feeling and it’s a day I will always remember and cherish.”

For the 2018 running of the event we are delighted to welcome Midland Travel as sponsor of the winning rider prize. Midland Travel specialise in group and sporting trips. www.midlandtravel.ie

The first rider across the line will jet off for a well-deserved week in the sun with 4* accommodation, flights, transfers and more included.

Stephen Bernie of Midland Travel commented “Horse racing is a huge part of the Midland Travel business so we are delighted to be involved with the 2018 running of the Up The Yard Challenge. We appreciate the huge contribution stablestaff make behind the scenes and are sure the lucky winner of this years’ challenge will enjoy a wonderful week in Portugal courtesy of Midland Travel”.

The 2018 Up The Yard Challengers

Rider Yard Represented

  1. Ganna German Sheila Lavery
  2. Justin Houlihan Con O'Keefe
  3. Nicole Smyth R.K. Watson
  4. Lee Shanahan Ross O'Sullivan
  5. Mairead Weathers Turlough O'Connor
  6. Camilla Sharples Gordon Elliott
  7. Maurice Hartnett Pat Fahy
  8. Debbie Flavin Jessica Harrington
  9. Nessa O'Brien J. R. Finn
  10. Oleg Pereverzev Johnny Murtagh
  11. Stephanie Searle Willie Mullins
  12. Megan Donovan Denis Hogan
  13. Emma Walshe Paul Nolan
  14. Cathal Jennings Henry De Bromhead
  15. Ian Montgomery Noel Meade
  16. Martin McCullagh Peter Cluskey


  1. Caoimhe O'Hare Liam Lennon
  2. Ian McDonnell Dermot Weld

The 2018 Huntsman’s Challenge

Alarm clocks will need to be set for an early but very worthwhile start on Winter Festival Sunday when the third running of the Berney Bros. Huntsman’s Team Challenge takes place before racing. This event raised over €10,000 for the Irish Injured Jockeys in 2017. The centre piece Berney Bros. Huntsman’s Cross Country Challenge demonstration will take place over a one and a half mile section of the famous Punchestown course. An introduction parade of challengers will commence at 10.45am in the parade ring prior to the demonstration at 11.15am.

2018 Berney Bros. Hunstman’s Challengers


1 Ballymacad Hunt Kevin Donohue

2 Carlow Farmers Hunt Ado Moran

3 Kildare Hunt Peter Cahill

4 North Tipperary Denis Gilmartin

5 Ormond Hunt Denis O'Sullivan

6 Waterford Hunt Ciara Fahy

7 South Tyrone Ryan Carvill

8 Oriel Harriers Declan Mulcaire

9 Co. Down Stag Hounds Ian Donoghue

10 Limerick Harriers Hunt John McNamara

11 Killinick Harriers John Roche

A Very Vintage Winter Market & Live Music

A Very Vintage Christmas Market will take place in Madigans Bar on both Saturday and Sunday of the Punchestown Winter Festival. The market will showcase artisan, vintage and unique wares.

On Saturday 17th November the Ballymore Concert Band will add to the atmosphere with a performance from 2pm. Jenny Vander vintage boutique will sponsor and judge Best Dressed Sunday and we are happy to welcome Blessington VVintage car Club who will display a selection of vehicles.

There will be live music in the Budweiser Sports Lounge after racing each day.

© 2020 ITBA