We’re happier than Honeysuckle and giddier than Sir Gerhard to sponsor at the Punchestown Festival with the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle.
We’ve signed on the dotted line to sponsor the Champion Hurdle on Friday’s card at the five-day fixture, for the next three years. Plans are already in motion to make it extra special for race fans too – once we’re all back at the famous Co Kildare track.
This year’s Festival runs from Tuesday April 27 to Saturday May 1, with the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle the headline contest on the Friday for a further two years. A host of Cheltenham winners are expected pitch up to the home of Irish jump racing, with horses, trainers and jockeys having already dominated at Prestbury Park.
Among those could be Honeysuckle, who remains unbeaten in her career after last week’s triumph under Rachael Blackmore.
The superstar mare is bidding to become the seventh horse to win the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle and the Punchestown Champion Hurdle in the same season – following in the hoofprints of Buveur D’air, Faugheen, Hurricane Fly, Brave Inca, Hardy Eustace and the legendary Istabraq.
Jockey Rachel Blackmore, who claimed the Ruby Walsh Leading Jockey Award with six victories at Cheltenham last week, said: “Punchestown is always a fantastic festival to ride at and hopefully Henry De Bromhead’s team of horses can be in similar form to Cheltenham. We all very much looking forward to races like the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle.”
Entries for the 2021 Paddy Power Champion Hurdle – along with 11 additional Grade 1 races – will be available from Monday 12th April, and Ruby Walsh can’t wait to see who turns up.
Our main man, who is the most successful jockey in the Champion Hurdle at Punchestown having won it six times, said: “When Punchestown comes around you hope for some Cheltenham Festival rematches or even new clashes and with so many strong Irish winners in March, added to a lot of placed horses and a slightly different program, we could be treated to a real spectacle in County Kildare.
“There are no championship or novice chase middle distance Grade 1s so who knows what will go where and the potential of a flat, fast two-mile hurdle track for Honeysuckle to contend with, I am sure the speedsters will fancy another go and I can’t wait to watch it.”
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