Banks racing to return to Knockanard this February
It has been almost 70 years since the banks were jumped at Knockanard point-to-point course but history will be re-written on Sunday 12 February when the Avondhu point-to-point open lightweight race will once again be run over a newly constructed banks course.
In 2019 following a discussion with landowner and well-known farrier and breeder Jimmy O’Leary to the possibility of constructing a banks course, a number of the Knockanard committee members with measuring tapes and cameras were kindly facilitated by Punchestown racecourse to visit and inspect their world famous banks course.
On returning they had great ideas on how something similar could be created at Knockanard. Shortly after this visit a digger was hired and under the watchful eyes of Michael Leahy, Jimmy O'Leary Larry Murphy Snr, Larry Murphy Jnr and Paul Cashman, four purpose-built banks were created and then given three years to settle.
At the end of 2022 the committee approached the IHRB to discuss the possibility of holding a banks race as the open lightweight. Following consultation and inspection the IHRB gave the go ahead to include the banks race as the new open lightweight race at Knockanard for 2023.
A total of four banks including two drop banks, up bank and a double bank, along with a laurel hedge, point to point fences and an easy fix hurdle will be jumped a number of times over a three and a half-mile course .
On Saturday 21 January a large crowd assembled for the launch of the race and local leading rider John Barry on horseback was very complimentary of the presentation of the course .