A sign at Punchestown Racecourse today
Punchestown racecourse today announced that the entire site will be closed to the general public from and including Friday 23rd April to Monday 3rd May as the 2021 Punchestown Festival gets underway.
This closure is necessary for the health and safety of the public and participants involved in what is categorized as an elite sporting event.
In addition, half of the famous Punchestown venue has been taken over by the HSE as both a Covid-19 testing and vaccination centre. Therefore the site is going to become increasingly busy in the coming weeks with people travelling to the HSE Covid-19 centres along with racecourse machinery in operation.
It was over a year ago that Conor O’Neill, CEO Punchestown Racecourse, opened the gates of the privately owned venue so the public could enjoy and avail of the grounds as a safe outdoor recreational space.
Since then the popularity of Punchestown for walking and recreation has grown beyond expectation and as a result presented some serious challenges for the racecourse team. Whilst the majority of visitors adhere to the simple rules that are requested there are some serious issues with waste, dogs off leads and a lack of cooperation with racecourse staff that may jeopardise the availability of the venue to the community going forward.
Conor O’Neill said: “Punchestown is a very special place and is close to the heart of so many people and we are glad to see so many members of the local community enjoy it as much as we do. We see it as a very beneficial asset to the local community and we want that to continue. The setting is beautiful and unique however we must remember that it is essentially a working site the very same as a farm or a factory campus. Over the coming weeks the track team will be extremely busy preparing what is an internationally renowned racecourse for one of the biggest sporting events in Ireland and the UK. Couple this with increased traffic flow to the HSE Covid-19 testing and vaccination centres and the Punchestown site becomes extremely active.
O’Neill continued: “Having lost the 2020 Festival entirely it is essential that we deliver a top quality event this year albeit behind closed doors. The message is clear and not one we ever thought we’d be saying but as we approach the end of April we ask that all public, with the exception of HSE staff, vaccine and test recipients with pre-arranged appointments , racing staff, participants and personnel not to visit Punchestown. We have already invested in security personnel to keep walkers off the track on normal race days and unfortunately, due to the popularity of the site, will have to significantly increase these measures further to ensure that the we can successfully stage the Punchestown Festival under the appropriate protocols.”
O’Neill concluded by saying “By opening the course to the public for recreational purposes, providing a venue for Covid-19 testing and now working with the HSE to provide a vaccine centre we hope people agree that Punchestown has played a significant part and contributed to the cause. Now we need the public to help us by not visiting Punchestown in the coming weeks and letting the team get on with the business of the 2021 Punchestown Festival so that it can continue to be the fantastic amenity that we all love and enjoy. We truly hope that this time next year we will be inviting everyone to join us for a very special Punchestown festival but in the meantime please stay safe and stay away!”
The 2021 Punchestown Festival will take place from Tuesday 27th April to Saturday 1st May with full coverage available on RTE and Racing TV. Get involved on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for news and competitions on www.punchestown.com.