Paddy Prendergast (racehorse trainer)

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Paddy Prendergast
Born6 August 1910
Carlow, Ireland
Died20 June 1980
Major racing wins
Irish Classic Races wins as trainer:
Irish 2000 Guineas (4)
Irish 1000 Guineas (5)
Irish Derby (4)
Irish Oaks (1)
Irish St Leger (3) British Classic Race wins as trainer:
2000 Guineas (1)
1000 Guineas (1)
Epsom Oaks (1)
St Leger (1)
Racing awards
Irish flat racing Champion Trainer (1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1963, 1965)[1]
British flat racing Champion Trainer (1963, 1964, 1965)
Significant horses
Windy City, The Pie King, Martial, Floribunda, La Tendresse, Noblesse, Ragusa, Pourparler, Meadow Court, Bold Lad (IRE), Ballymore, Sarah Siddons, Nikoli, Ardross

Patrick Joseph Prendergast (1910–1980), known as Paddy "Darkie" Prendergast was an Irish trainer of racehorses. He won seventeen Irish classics and became the first Irish trainer to have a major impact on British flat racing. He trained the first Irish winners of the 2000 Guineas and The Oaks and was British champion trainer for three successive seasons.

Early career[edit]

Paddy Prendergast was born at Carlow in County Carlow, the eldest of a brotherhood of jockeys, but moved to Athy in County Kildare when very young. He was apprenticed to Roderic More O'Ferrall at Kildangan, County Kildare, but soon moved to Epsom where he rode under both rules but principally National Hunt. In August 1931 with his young bride he moved to Melbourne and obtained a licence to ride the following month. Their eldest son was born in Australia but though he rode there for a year he failed to ride any winners and returned to continue an unremarkable riding career in England and Ireland.

Training career[edit]

Prendergast began training racehorses in 1940.[2] He had his first winner in Britain in 1945 and had his first champion five years later when Windy City was the top-rated two-year-old in Ireland, Britain and France.[3] Prendergast soon became one of the leading trainers in Ireland, winning four Irish classics between 1950 and 1952.[2]

In 1953 Prendergast had considerable success in Britain with The Pie King, a two-year-old colt which won the Coventry Stakes, Richmond Stakes and Gimcrack Stakes and was the top rated juvenile of the year.[3] In October that year he sent another two-year-old called Blue Sail to England for a race at Ascot. The horse, which had run poorly on his last two Irish starts, showed improved form and was narrowly beaten into second place. The stewards of the Jockey Club, the governing body of British racing, took the view that the variation in the horse's form was unacceptable and refused to accept further entries for horses trained by Prendergast, effectively banning him from competing in Britain.[4] Irish Racing's governing body, the Irish Turf Club declined to uphold the decision and exonerated Prendergast, marking the first time that a ruling of the Jockey Club had been challenged by another national organisation.[5] The ban, however, resulted in several good horses, including Blue Sail, being removed from Prendergast's stable.[6]

Prendergast's ban was eventually lifted and in the early 1960s he enjoyed the most successful period of his career. In 1960 he sent out the 18/1 outsider Martial to become the first Irish trained horse to win England's 2000 Guineas in the 152-year history of the race.[7] Prendergast had bought the horse as a yearling for 2,400 guineas at Dublin in September 1958. Later in 1960 he won the New Stakes with Floribunda, an exceptionally fast colt[8] who went on to win the King George Stakes and Nunthorpe Stakes in 1961. Prendergast's next champion was the American-bred filly La Tendresse who won five races to become the top-rated two-year old of either sex to run in Britain in 1961.[3]

A year later, Prendergast found an even better juvenile in Noblesse who established herself as the best two-year-old filly of her generation by defeating colts in the Observer Gold Cup. Noblesse was even better as a three-year-old, winning The Oaks by ten lengths, before her career was curtailed by injury. Prendergast's biggest winner of 1963 however, was the colt Ragusa, who showed little worthwhile form before finishing third as a 25/1 outsider in The Derby. He then improved rapidly to win the Irish Derby, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes[9] and St Leger Stakes. The success of Noblesse and Ragusa saw Prendergast become the first Irish-based trainer to win the British trainers' championship, with prize money of £125,294.[10] Ragusa returned to win the Eclipse Stakes in 1964, a year in which Prendergast claimed a third British classic when Pourparler won the 1000 Guineas. His horses earned £128,012[10] in Britain, enabling him to retain his trainers' title. A third championship followed in 1965 when Meadow Court finished second in the Derby at Epsom before emulating Ragusa by winning the Irish Derby and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.[10] Prendergast renamed his home and stables at Maddenstown, near The Curragh in honour of Meadow Court.[10]

By the 1970s, Prendergast was having less success, but did win four more Irish classics during the decade. By this time, his sons Patrick Jnr and Kevin had both established themselves as leading trainers in Ireland. Paddy Prendergast died on 20 June 1980,[2] less than two months after recording his last major success when Nikoli won the Irish 2000 Guineas.[11]


  1. ^ "Irish Racing Greats". Irish Racing Greats. Retrieved 2012-09-29.
  2. ^ a b c "Irish Racing Greats". Irish Racing Greats. Retrieved 2012-09-29.
  3. ^ a b c Morris, Tony; Randall, John (1990). Horse Racing: Records, Facts, Champions (Third Edition). Guinness Publishing. ISBN 0-85112-902-1.
  4. ^ "Turf suspension". The Leader-Post. 22 October 1953. Retrieved 2012-09-29.
  5. ^ "Prendergast exonerated by Irish Turf Club". Glasgow Herald. 30 October 1953. Retrieved 2012-09-29.
  6. ^ "Racing". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. 2 April 1954. Retrieved 2012-09-29.
  7. ^ "American-owned horse wins 2000 Guineas". Montreal Gazette. 28 April 1960. Retrieved 2012-08-24.
  8. ^ "Irish colts lead them a jig". Evening Times. 18 June 1960. Retrieved 2012-09-29.
  9. ^ "Ragusa does it again". Miami News. 21 July 1963. Retrieved 2012-09-29.
  10. ^ a b c d Mortimer, Roger; Onslow, Richard; Willett, Peter (1978). Biographical Encyclopedia of British Flat Racing. Macdonald and Jane’s. ISBN 0-354-08536-0.
  11. ^ "It's perfect going at Epsom". Evening Times. 3 June 1980. Retrieved 2012-09-29.