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'Kauto should pack Punchestown'

With less than five weeks to the off of the Punchestown Festival, management at the track are well on their way to doing their bit to make this the best meeting yet at the home of Irish jump racing.

With so many high-profiles names stating their intentions to take part at the Punchestown Festival the track is a hive of activity as they count down the days.

A number of promotions have been ongoing through their website and Facebook pages and on the course staff are putting in the long hours to have everything is in place for the Festival.

Racing manager Richie Galway is naturally delighted with the state of Irish jump racing at the moment and of course with the level of interest shown for Punchestown from all angles.

"I suppose some of the runners we will or won't get will depend on what happens at Aintree, with the weather and that, but it's great to see the likes of Paul Nicholls committing Kauto Star to Punchestown at this early stage," Galway told the Herald.

"For me Kauto Star is one of the biggest draws and the place should be packed out just to see him alone, but it has the billing to be a great race overall."

Galway continued: "Philip Hobbs is a good supporter and he has also committed runners this year, as has Nigel Twiston Davies, so that's a great boost."

With very little rain over the last couple of weeks, one of the major objectives for Punchestown to get right over the coming weeks has to be the ground conditions.

Naturally, Galway and his crew would like the Gods above to produce perfect jumping ground, but he is confident of keeping the majority of trainers happy should the manpower need to intervene.





CRITICS

"I think we've proven over the last couple of years that we're able to water and do a good job on the track. This year we've doubled the capacity to water and that will mean we can get it done an awful lot quicker if we had to."

Galway is happy to take the odd critic for the sake of safe ground. "Some trainers complained last year that it was a bit dead or a bit on the slow side, but to be perfectly honest I will take that complaint again this year rather than have ground that horses are breaking down on," he said. "We will certainly err on the side of caution, that's for sure."

With the current economic climate, the Wexford native admits that despite the all-star line-up on show the racecourse are just hoping to maintain their numbers for a start.

"Over the last two years our advance ticket sales online have been a lot stronger, which is obviously a good thing and what we've lost in corporate we seemed to have kept in racegoers.

"Our main aim is to maintain the crowd figures for the week, but a lot will depend on the weather and what it does. The horses will be here and the late starting time is a great incentive so hopefully people will come."