Punchestown Kidney Research Fund
Charity Race

Founded in 1990 by James Nolan.

This Charity Race enables us to raise funds for kidney related projects and also to create Organ Donor Awareness in Ireland.

We select projects that fit the following criteria:

  1. Projects that improve the quality of life for patients on dialysis.
  2. Projects that improve quality of life of the transplanted recipient.
  3. Projects that try to identify the causes that lead to Kidney failure.

We also try to use the Punchestown Charity Race to promote Organ Donor Awareness in Ireland.

The Chairty Race in  2024

2024 will see the 33rd running of the Annual Charity Race at the Punchestown National Hunt Racing Festival on Saturday 30th April in aid of the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund. (P.K.R.F.)

The race involves 25 amateur riders, battling it out over 1 mile 7 furlongs and raising €1,500 for the P.K.R.F. Kilcullen Butcher,

James Nolan initiated both the Charity and the Race having received the GIFT OF LIFE when his sister Catherine Doyle donated one of her kidneys to him on the 25th July 1987. He has ridden in the race himself 13 times and won it on 50 to 1 shot Nero’s Dancer in 2002, an experience he describes as one of the highlights of his life.

Manomine and Kate Kelly win the 2019  Have The Conversation - Say Yes To Organ Donation Charity Race in 2019. Photo Credit to Racing Post Images.

Annual Punchestown Kidney Research Fund Charity Race

The Punchestown Kidney Research Fund uses the Charity Race as a major Organ Donor Awareness Event in Ireland.  Indeed the simple measure of carrying an Organ Donor Card or having the conversation about Organ Donation and informing one’s next of kin of one’s wish to donate organs can save someone’s life.

The Race

Founded in 1990 by James Nolan, the Punchestown Charity Race is a 1 mile and 7 furlongs flat race that takes place at the Punchestown Championship Racetrack during the Irish National Hunt Racing Festival, attracting 30,000 spectators.

Over the years, it has featured notable riders from the racing world such as Frank Berry, Tommy Carberry, and John Joe O'Neill, as well as prominent figures from the equestrian world like Jessica Harrington and Bertram Allen. Additionally, Jon Kenny from D'unbelievables participated in 1998 and 1999.

It is the concluding race of the festival, with riders required to raise at least €1,500 in sponsorship to enter.

Where it's held

The race, takes place at the Punchestown Championship Racetrack during the Irish National Hunt Racing Festival, attracting 30,000 spectators.

It is officially recognized by the Punchestown Management Committee, who require all jockeys to pass a One Day Competency Assessment to compete as amateurs. Noteworthy past participants include "Bobbyjo," the winner of the Irish National in 1998 and the Aintree Grand National in 1999.

The 2023 winner was Kilcullen GAA Championship Winning footballer Paul Bell, and 2024 marks the 33rd running of the event.

How it Started

James Nolan, who has battled progressive renal failure since birth, spent the first 19 years of his life undergoing extensive medical treatments and was placed on dialysis at the Meath Hospital, Dublin, at the age of 19 in November 1986.

In April 1987, his family explored the possibility of a transplant, leading to the discovery that his sister Catherine was a 100% match. Catherine generously donated one of her kidneys, giving James a new lease on life. After their surgeries, James, fully recovered and inspired to give back, collaborated with The Punchestown Race Course and The Turf Club to establish a charity race. James participated in the first 13 races, notably winning in 2002 at 50/1 odds on Nero’s Dancer.

To date, the event has raised €1.8 million for kidney-related projects, with the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund investing these funds in initiatives aimed at enhancing the lives of dialysis patients, extending the lifespan of transplanted kidneys, and investigating the causes of renal failure.

James Nolan, now 57, has made a significant impact through his efforts in both his personal battle with kidney disease and his philanthropic contributions to kidney research.

PKRF Charity Race Jockeys: 2024

Have the Conversation -  
say YES to Organ Donation!