Could an 86-year-old local Kildare trainer finally win Ireland’s richest race today?

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Could an 86-year-old local Kildare trainer finally win the Derby today?

A first Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby win for 86-year-old local trainer Kevin Prendergast would be hugely popular at the Curragh today should Madhmoon be first past the finishing post in the 154th running of Ireland’s richest race with total prize money of €1.5m.

Prendergast’s legendary father Paddy 'Darkie' won the Derby four times, including in 1963 with Ragusa, who was commemorated in Thursday’s Irish Stallion Farms EBF 'Ragusa' Handicap at the racecourse.

Darkie also trained Meadow Court to triumph for Hollywood star Bing Crosby in 1965.

Crosby later sang When Irish Eyes Are Smiling from the parade ring. 

Prendergast,who is based in Friarstown outside Kildare Town, has gone close before.

Ragapan finished second to Weaver's Hall for Prendergast in 1973 while Northern Treasure and Oscar Schindler were both placed.

Madhmoon will be bidding to make it third time lucky in Classic races this season, having finished fourth in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket before getting within half a length of Anthony Van Dyck in the Epsom Derby.

Prendergast told RTÉ: 

“Madhmoon couldn't be better and he's running against the same horses he ran against at Epsom. If he has a bit of luck on his side, he could get the nod.

"I'm not going to say he's better than he was at Epsom - but if he's as good, he should run a good race.

"Whatever way the race is run won't affect our horse. I just hope it happens - and I'd be very happy if it does.

"If you have a bit of luck you’ll always find half a length."

 

Kevin was born in Australia in 1932 and although educated here, he returned to Australia to begin his racing career before finally settling in Ireland. 

A leading amateur jockey, he worked as assistant trainer to his father before taking out his own license to train in 1963.

Since then, he has won an array of Classic races, the first being with Pidget in the Irish 1,000 Guineas in 1972 and he continues to be a force in Group 1 races well into his sixth decade as a trainer.

At Dundalk on September 24th2010, Kevin reached the notable milestone of saddling his 2,000thcareer winner, Tell The Wind, cementing his position as one of the all-time greats of the Irish training ranks.

He has won eight Irish Classics. Along with her Irish 1,000 Guineas success in 1972, Pidget also won the Irish St Leger and Conor Pass won the race the following year.

Oscar Schindler was successful in the Irish St Leger on two occasions, in 1996 and 1997.

Northern Treasure gave Prendergast his first Irish 2,000 Guineas win in 1976 and Awtaad gave him a second victory in the race 40 years later.

Artique Royale was a second Irish 1,000 Guineas winner for Kevin Prendergast in 1981.

Kevin's sole English Classic success to date came when Nebbiolo won the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket in 1977.