Course guide and key statistics

Preparing for the Punchestown festival starts here with Timeform’s in-depth guide, featuring all the key facts and figures.


Timeform’s Punchestown Course Guide

A straight, galloping and hilly track with a steady climb over the last five stages. This is a very fair test of a rider; there are 11 fences on a circuit which are not stiff by British standards and they pose few problems for sound jumpers. The cross-country course is long and winding over a variety of banks and other obstacles, few of which are jumped more than once. The turns are both left and right and only the final brush fence is on the racecourse proper.


Lead active jockeys in Punchestown (all meetings)

Sorted by strike rate over the past five years (minimum 20 rides)

  • Patrick Mullins 28.37% (40-141)
  • Jamie Codd 22.64% (24-106)
  • Paul Townend 21.37% (50-234)
  • Robbie Power 17.70% (40-226)
  • Derek O’Connor 17.48% (18-103)

Other points to consider

  • Paul Townend has been the most successful jockey at the Punchestown Festival since 2017 with 16 winners from 78 rides, running at a strike rate of 20.51%. Townend has teamed up with eight first-year winners at the Punchestown festival over this period, including four at last year’s reunion when he made just nine outings in total after returning from a foot injury.
  • Robbie Power and Patrick Mullins are next best behind Townend among the most successful jockeys at the Punchestown festival since 2017. Power has linked 15 winners from 70 rides at a strike rate of 21.43%, while Mullins has linked 14 winners of 54 rides during a strike. rate of 25.93%.

Main active coaches at Punchestown (all meetings)

Sorted by strike rate over the past five years (minimum 20 riders)

  • Willie Mullins 22.80% (166-728)
  • Nicky Henderson 18.18% (4-22)
  • Martin Brassil 16.90% (12-71)
  • Enda Bolger 16.81% (19-113)
  • Brian McMahon 15.62% (5-32)

Other points to consider

  • Willie Mullins is somewhat of the most successful Punchestown Festival coach since 2017 with 57 winners out of 347 runners, running at a strike rate of 16.43%. Mullins broke his own record for the most winners at a single Punchestown festival by winning 19 of the 40 races contested at last year’s meeting. That tally included nine of the 12 freshman races contested at the 2021 meeting.
  • Nicky Henderson has done well from a small sample of riders at the Punchestown Festival since 2017. Henderson saddled four winners out of 21 riders at a strike rate of 19.05%, earning Betfair a profit of 39.38 points SP. OO Seven caused the biggest shock by winning a valuable pursuit with a handicap of a BSP of 30.

racing style

The tactical advantage the lead runners have in any given race, both on the flat and over the jumps, should never be underestimated. For example, if you had backed all horses that recorded a Timeform EPF (Early Position Figure) of 1 in UK/Irish show jumping since the start of the 2016/17 season, you would be running at a strike rate of 22.95% and celebrate a profit of over 7,000 points on Betfair SP.

On the other hand, statistics tell us that backing heist horses just doesn’t pay off in the long run. Horses that recorded an EPF of 4 (backwards) in British/Irish steeplechase over the same period had a strike rate of 8.04%, while horses that recorded an EPF of 5 (backward) performed even worse with a strike rate of just 5.60%.

  • Time Form EPFs range from 1 to 5 and help explain where a horse was positioned during a race. An EPF of 1 is recorded by a horse that led and an EPF of 5 is recorded by a horse that was retained.

It should be noted that these numbers can vary significantly from course to course. At one end of the spectrum there is the steeplechase track at Kempton Park, where the favorites have a 31.30 per cent strike rate since the start of the 2016/17 season, and at the other end there is the steeplechase track at Downpatrick, where the favorites have a strike rate of just 9.65% for the same period.

Looking at the aggregate data, Punchestown seems to have more in common with Kempton than Downpatrick. For context, the former have a strike rate of 24.38% in all hurdle races held at Punchestown since the start of the 2016/17 season, again significantly better than horses that have recorded an EPF of 2 (15.08%), 3 (7.59%), 4 (3.32%) or 5 (2.64%).

Similarly, the best are the best in hurdle racing at Punchestown since the start of the 2016/17 season with a strike rate of 15.60%. Horses that recorded an EPF of 2 were again the best with a strike rate of 12.99%, while horses that recorded an EPF of 3 (5.92%), 4 (3.35%) or 5 (2.56%) continued to struggle in comparison.


Punchestown Gold Cup Trends

Since 2000 unless otherwise stated

  • Age – 18/21 Punchestown Gold Cup winners were aged nine or under. The only exceptions were Florida Pearl (2002), First Gold (2003) and Carlingford Lough (2016), all 10 years old.
  • First year form – 15/21 Punchestown Gold Cup winners had already won a Grade One on the fences. 11/21 had already won a first year on the fences that season, including Kicking King (2005), War of Attrition (2006) and Sizing John (2017), all of which completed the Cheltenham Gold Cup / Punchestown Gold Cup double .
  • PS – 17/21 Punchestown Gold Cup winners have been sent off at single-digit odds. Kicking King (11/8 in 2005) is the shortest winner, while Follow The Plan (20/1 in 2011) and China Rock (20/1 in 2012) are the longest winners. The winner’s average SP is 5.6/1.

Karen J. Nelson