Punchestown is ready to welcome Gordon Elliott on track if he is present after his suspension ends – as the crowd is also returning to the Leinster site for the first time since February 2020.
While Punchestown hosts a rare Flat match on Tuesday, Elliott has one confirmed runner – Oh Purple Reign in the Donate To The Coast To The Curragh cycle in honor of Pat Smullen Handicap.
He also has Alice Kitty as a third reserve in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Handicap later on the map.
Elliott was free to make entries again from last Thursday, after the suspension imposed by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board ended in March after an image of him sitting on a dead horse was circulated widely on the networks social.
Ireland’s top manager has been suspended for 12 months, with half of that suspended sentence, and Denise Foster has taken temporary control of his Cullentra base.
Elliott is no stranger to success on this stage of his comeback, with Don Cossack at the 2015 Punchestown Gold Cup one of his many high points in jumping.
Racetrack manager Richie Galway said: “He has been a huge supporter of Punchestown for many years, and he has obviously served his suspension, and he will be very well received by all of us here in Punchestown.
“I don’t know if he’s coming.
Punchestown will no longer have the 5,000-person crowd again allowed, as coronavirus restrictions are relaxed, but there is the incentive for free entry for those who want to go.
“It’s just nice to run,” Galway added.
“We have just reopened the racetrack to the public and I am delighted to see them again. We have offered free entry to anyone who wants to come run tomorrow.
“Obviously given the protocols in Ireland right now you have to pre-register ahead of time and track and trace. It has proven popular and it’s just good to see the crowds coming back to the race.
“We can have 5,000 but we won’t get far from capacity tomorrow. The last time we had racing fans here was in February 2020.”
Punchestown hosted a Flat reunion last year for the first time since 2002, and more can be expected when a new € 5million development is completed in 2025.
Galway said: “We are constantly modifying and developing our track.
“The last shot is an extension of the track, and the home straight widened, which will facilitate more encounters in general – not specifically related to flat races but (which) will allow us to have additional flat races.
“This is something we want to do – we want to maximize racing options and improve our facilities, with continued development as part of our strategy.
“We had a Flat meeting last year, and it was well received by the industry in general.
“At Punchestown we are keen to provide a first class running surface and layout, so it’s really gratifying to see the support we have for tomorrow’s meeting.”
Elliott will have his first aerials runners in Sligo on Wednesday, with four of his seven entries declared.