Irish Thoroughbred Marketing (ITM) has become a Grade 1 race-sponsor at the Punchestown Festival and first entries for the ‘ITM – Supporting The Irish Store Sales Champion INH Flat Race’ promise a compelling rematch between the main protagonists from the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival.
Sir Gerhard (IRE) and Rachael Blackmore winning the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham 17.3.21. Sir Gerhard heads the entries for the ‘ITM – Supporting The Irish Store Sales Champion INH Flat Race’ at Punchestown on Wednesday 28 April Photo: Edward Whitaker/Racing Post
All bar two of the 17 initial engagements for the €100,000 contest on Wednesday, April 28 are former winners, headed by the Willie Mullins’ Sir Gerhard (IRE), who proved a half a length too strong for stable companion Kilcruit (IRE) on St Patrick’s Day at Prestbury Park. Three Stripe Life (IRE) and Grangee, fourth and sixth home in the same race, are also pencilled-in.
Befitting the race title, the majority of the entries received that passed through public auction were sourced at the Irish Store Sales. These comprise the Goffs Land Rover Sale and the Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale, both taking place in June, along with the Tattersalls Ireland July Store Sales.
Charles O’Neill, CEO of Irish Thoroughbred Marketing, said: “ITM is delighted to support this championship race at Punchestown. It comes at a time when the stock of Irish-bred store horses has never been higher in the wake of their record-breaking exploits at Cheltenham, Fairyhouse and Aintree and no doubt more stars of the future are waiting to be discovered at the sales this summer.”
Conor O’Neill, Punchestown CEO, added: “This season’s results have been the ultimate marketing campaign for Irish racing so we are delighted to welcome Irish Thoroughbred Marketing as sponsors of the Punchestown Champion Bumper. From this June, horses will pass through sales rings in Ireland and those same horses will enter winners’ circles on the largest stages in the coming years. ITM and this race are the ideal fit.”
Recent renewals of the ITM – Supporting The Irish Store Sales Champion INH Flat Race have been particularly strong. Colreevy (IRE) triumphed in 2019 and has since gone onto Cheltenham Festival glory. Other former winners to have flourished subsequently at the highest level since include Bellshill (IRE) and Champagne Fever (IRE).
If Sir Gerhard (IRE) is to add victory in this race to the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham, he will emulate only Cousin Vinny (IRE), Champagne Fever (IRE) and Fayonagh (IRE) in doing the double.