More than 700 businesses join race to Punchestown racing festival

Co Kildare national hunt bonanza expected to contribute €64 million to economy

More than 100,000 people  are expected to attend the Punchestown national hunt racing festival this week. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

More than 100,000 people are expected to attend the Punchestown national hunt racing festival this week. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Mon, Apr 28, 2014, 01:00

Over 700 Irish and overseas businesses will be entertaining at the Punchestown national hunt racing festival this week, which is expected to contribute €64 million to the economy.

The five-day festival kicks off tomorrow and runs until Saturday at the Co Kildare racecourse, which, based on pre-ticket sales, is expecting more than 100,000 people through its gates over those days.

It is also expected to generate around €64 million to the economy, up from the €57 million that a study by NUI Maynooth found it contributed in 2012.

Corporates are set to increase their share of this contribution and 726 businesses, both Irish and multinational, have booked slots to entertain clients and customers, compared with 650 last year. They are expected to bring a total of 15,000 guests.

Businesses are also paying their share of the €2.5 million that will be available in prize money, up from €2.2 million in 2013.

Punchestown recently recruited small and medium-sized enterprise lender Bibby Financial Services to sponsor one of its more prestigious races, the Gold Cup.

Other backers include Boylesports, Ladbrokes, and Ryanair, whose chief executive Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown Stud is likely to have a large number of runners.

The festival has consistently attracted around 20,000 tourists, mainly from the UK, and this is is likely to increase this year.

Sales and marketing director Liam Holton said at the weekend that pre-ticket sales have been particularly strong, while the event has continued to retain existing sponsors and attract new ones.

General manager Dick O’Sullivan said Punchestown aims every year to top the 100,000 attendance figure.