Buoyed by the prospect of a raft of heavyweight on-track showdowns, a statement from Punchestown has revealed that pre-booked ticket sales for next week's National Hunt Festival are already up 8pc on 2012, writes RICHARD FORRISTAL.
A year ago, horrendous weather decimated attendances at the five-day climax to the jump season.
However, the anticipated participation – ground permitting – of the game's marquee steeplechaser Sprinter Sacre, along with that of other high-profile names such as Hurricane Fly, Rock On Ruby, Sir Des Champs, First Lieutenant, Long Run, Quevega, Solwhit, Flemenstar and Cue Card, has prompted a 50pc increase in the track's website traffic.
That has resulted in the highest number of pre-bookings for the Festival since 2008, while there are currently waiting lists for corporate hospitality packages for three of the five days.
Impressively, given the current economic climate, sponsors have been sourced for each of the 37 scheduled races, with the Festival forecast to be worth up to €60m to the local economy.
Liam Holton, Punchestown's sales and marketing manager, said: "Our pre-sales are a great indicator of attendances and the hospitality and sponsorship figures are the best they have been in years. We have had tremendous support from all the businesses involved and, along with excellent entries and the good weather, we have a winning combination."
Meanwhile, the Bankos Tales production 'Punchestown – Seeing Out The Distance,' a documentary on the history of the Festival that was first aired in November, is due to be shown again on TG4 this Saturday at 9.40. It will be preceded by a preview of the week's main events.