Momentous occasion for Punchestown as new €4m Hunt Stand unveiled

Longford Leader Sports Correspondent

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Longford Leader Sports Correspondent

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Today, Tuesday, April 24, marks an historic occasion for Punchestown racecourse as the new €4 million Hunt Stand was officially unveiled to coincide with the opening of the 2018 Punchestown Festival. Minister Michael Creed officiated at today’s event.

The three story structure is located in a prime track side position overlooking the final furlong of the famous Kildare venue.

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It will be the centre piece of the reserved enclosure which is the social hub of the five day sporting feature that expects to attract over 125,000 people.

Designed by Seamus McCluskey of Hamilton Architects and manged by John J. Casey Quantity Surveying, the Hunt Stand spans over 13,000 square feet of useable public hospitality and entertainment space.

Over 81,000 man hours have been clocked up over the ten month construction period by project builders The Elliott Group. The completion of the Hunt Stand is the main element of a three phase plan that has been 40% funded by the Horse Racing Ireland Capital Development Scheme.  

Phase one, the refurbishment of existing buildings and launch of the La Touche restaurant, concluded prior to the 2017 Punchestown festival. The third and final phase will see the general enclosure area surrounding the parade ring undergo a major landscape overhaul. The total development spend is €6 million.

Throughout the entire design and build process particular attention was paid to maximising the views of the action whilst ensuring customers service expectations were met and exceeded where possible. Replacing the original open air stand are increased capacity viewing terraces, where reserved enclosure patrons can enjoy views of some of the feature race starts and the thrilling action of all finishing stages. The ground floor level will be entirely dedicated to the general public and will be the new permanent home for the stylish Festival Bar, the Fox Den Café and the elegant Bollinger Lounge.

The first floor has been dedicated to the new 160 diner Corinthian Restaurant and the exclusive Goffs Owners and Trainers Lounge. Both venues share exceptional panoramic views of the course and the Dublin/Wicklow mountains beyond. Design features such as split level floor plan and vaulted ceilings have optimised these views. The main structure is book ended by two three story tower features where the private Vantage Room is located. With capacity for over 50 guests this venue offers show stopping views of the entire racecourse.

The interiors of the new venue have been carefully selected in accordance with the detailed brief which outlined the requirement that each individual space should reflect the character, heritage and personality of Punchestown. This task was handed to local Kildare based interiors specialist Number 10 Design.

Punchestown is credited as being one of the first racecourses in Ireland to cater for spectators. Back in the 1860’s the first permanent stand was erected and enclosures were laid out. A more modern stand was built in 1960 with various additional buildings erected on an ad hoc basis. It wasn’t until 1998 when the £7 million development of the grandstand and enclosure area took place. The following year a further £6 million was invested in the stable yard, entrance building and event centre.

Dick O’Sullivan, Punchestown General Manager, commented of the momentous event: “This project started out as little more than a pipe dream. It was the top of a wish list at a time when, like so many businesses, we were focusing all resources on keeping the ship afloat. We have so many people to thank for making our dream become a reality. Punchestown is owned, in trust, by the Kildare Hunt who backed our management team all the way, the progressive mind of Kildare County Manager Peter Carey and county planner Peter Minnock. O’Sullivan continued “With a tight timeline and even tighter budget we needed a dynamic design and build team and we got just that in John Casey, Seamus McCluskey of Hamilton Architects and Noel Elliott and his team in the Elliott Group. This building will elevate the customer experience at Punchestown for generations to come”.

The Punchestown Festival will run from Tuesday  to Saturday, April 24 to 28. Over 125,000 people are expected to attend. For full event information please visit www.punchestown.com