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Minister Creed's address at opening of new stand at Punchestown Racecourse, 24 April 2018

Speaking Notes for the Official Launch of 'The Hunt Stand' at Punchestown Racecourse

Tuesday 24 April @ 1pm

  • Ladies, Gentlemen and distinguished guests, it is a great pleasure for me to join you here this afternoon to officially launch this new grandstand. I extend my thanks to Mr Dick O’Sullivan CEO for his kind invitation to officiate at this event.
  • This fantastic ‘Hunt Stand’ is the final phase of a €6.2 million racecourse upgrade which began in 2016. It is a true representation of what the racecourse capital development programme was intended to do.
  • Punchestown is the home of Irish jump racing and this is a major step in providing first class hospitality facilities that will enhance the customer experience and grow attendances. The first recorded race meeting held in Punchestown was in 1823 and I’m sure nobody then could envisage that in the last century and a half this venue would be considered to be one of the world’s finest national hunt racecourses.
  • With the best and brightest Irish racing stars performing and winning on a global stage it is only right that our racecourses befit that standard of excellence.
  • Today is the opening day of the annual Spring Festival meeting which is a major event in the Irish racing calendar and I believe the team here are expecting around 125,000 people to attend over the next five days. Of that number, over 20,000 of those race goers will travel from the UK and beyond.
  • With an influx of that scale, the locality, hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions, transport services will all benefit, in fact, this event reaches far beyond a sporting occasion, as independent research has found that this festival contributes over €60 million to the local economy.
  • Central to the entire show here at Punchestown is the racing. We have every right to be incredibly proud of the Irish racing industry as it is a huge source of employment.
  • The incredible results both at home and abroad have been spear-headed by the unprecedented levels of success by trainers Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott who’s championship battle, handled with great respect and dignity by both men, has propelled this industry from the racing pages to the headline story in Irish sport. And of course this battle came into full force at Aintree when Tiger Roll just held off the late lunge of the Willie Mullins-trained Pleasant Company to win the Aintree Grand National. What a proud moment that was for Irish racing.
  • With supporting cast including household names like Jessica Harrington, Davy Russell and Ruby Walsh we have a week of unique sporting excellence to look forward to.
  • And finally, I have no doubt that the aim of the team here is to deliver a memorable and impressive race day experience to all customers and I am confident that this aim will be met and exceeded.
  • May I thank you again for your kind invitation, I wish the Punchestown team and the race goers a wonderful festival.