The Gigginstown House Stud, owned by Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary, has announced that it will sponsor one of the races at the Punchestown National Hunt Festival, to take place next April. Besides, the airline is prepared to increase the prize for the race that is named after it at Cheltenham in March.
According to the information released, Gigginstown House has signed a contract to sponsor the two mile novice chase for five years. The race will be name the Ryanair Novice Chase and is a grade one that has been won by one of Gigginstown horses, War of Attraction, who won it in 2005. Last year, the race was won Barker with jockey David Casey and champion jumps trainer Willie Mullins.
Ryanair has also informed that the prize fund for the Ryanair Chase on the Cheltenham Festival will be increased to £250,000, which makes it the most valuable prize in the four day event. The new race to be sponsored by Ryanair at Punchestown will have a €90,000 prize.
When asked about his reaction to the new Ryanair sponsorship in the Punchestown National Hunt Festival, racecourse manager Dick O’Sullivan commented that Ryanair had been actively involved to make the festival more accessible to United Kingdom visitors.
“Many UK racecourse members currently enjoy free admission on the opening day of the festival and we look forward to strengthening our relationship with Ryanair to grow the UK attendance further,” O’Sullivan also said. “Our mission this year is to offer racegoers better value for money and no better partner to promote that message than Ryanair, who have been doing it for many years.”
The favorite to win the Ryanair featured race at Punchestown is Edward O’Grady trained Tranquil Sea, which is now at the top of the betting for the race. Tranquil Sea won the Paddy Power Handicap Chase in November and has had a good season. “We hope to see the first Irish-trained winner of the race this year,” Stephen McNamara, Ryanair spokesman, said.
Meanwhile, Britain and Ireland are still waiting for a thaw and the freeze continues to devastate the National Hunt scene. The last meeting to be abandoned was Doncaster’s on Wednesday and trainers are now struggling to get horses out for exercising.