Kevin Prendergast shows age is but a number on day of drama at Leopardstown

Sat 15 Sep 2018

They say you should never get up – unless we are talking about cigarettes.

Kevin Prendergast was 50 when he did, advised so by his father 'Darkie', and 36 years later he is going strongly in a manner which makes a mockery of his age.

The market liked Madhmoon in the Group Two juveniles' race and Prendergast was as brave as to suggest that Hamdan Al Maktoum's colt may be better than Awtaad, who provided the stable with an Irish 2,000 Guineas winner 40 years after its first.

 Prendergast has another exciting prospect on his hands in Madhmood. (PA)
Prendergast has another exciting prospect on his hands in Madhmood. (PA)

“I don’t know whether he will run again this year. I’ll have to talk to the boss; he’s in the mile race at Doncaster [Racing Post Trophy] and if he doesn’t run there he won’t run again until the spring.

“I’m happy with him going a mile at the moment and I don’t know what the plans are otherwise. When there is no hole in the bucket don’t try and fix it. Hopefully he lives up to expectations.”

In what other sport would a man nearer 90 than 80 be winning at nearly the top level?

Jessica Harrington is merely in her early 70s and, after saddling the first and fourth in the opening race, it was hard to comprehend that Alpha Centauri would be the one to let the stable down on what should have been a momentous day.

It was as if the life were sucked out of Leopardstown to a degree when the grey suffered her first defeat since she went on a winning roll in the Irish Guineas.

Clinically abnormal post-race, that was not the only thing that went wrong for Alpha Centauri, and the welcome for the gutsy Laurens was more respectable than raucous.

Late on Saturday night it was revealed Alpha Centauri had suffered a fetlock injury.

Before that disappointing news, Harrington had said. “She got to the lead and she took a bad step. Whatever happened she took a bad step and then she took another one towards the end."

Rider Colm O'Donoghue was admirably gracious. "She quickened up and went half a length up but then she lost her action and half knuckled over for a stride or two.

"When she recovered she did it a second time. Fair dues to the winner though as she's a top class filly in her own right as well.”

The victory of Laurens, trainer Karl Burke gushed, was probably the highlight of his career.

If he were emotional, Qatar Racing's David Redvers was all the more after Roaring Lion snared a sensational renewal of the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes.

It was, said Redvers, the best thing he'd seen at a racecourse – and anyone who was visiting this great venue for the first time will struggle to forget this gripping renewal.

Ryan Moore, who had won the previous race on I Can Fly – so appropriately named after he arrived at the track via helicopter after winning the St Leger at Doncaster – gave Saxon Warrior a peach of a steer, bursting for home about the two-furlong pole.

"It was rough," Oisin Murphy, who also won earlier on Limini, admitted. "It was tactical, and Ryan gave Saxon Warrior a great ride."

If Moore were good, Murphy was possibly better, timing it to perfection at a track with which he would not be terribly familiar.

As the placid grey came back into a packed winner’s enclosure, photographers brushed off photographers as they sought the shot to beat all shots.

"Don't frighten him, don't frighten him," said Murphy in that ever-so-calm voice, delivered with assurance and reason. If Murphy frightened backers of the odds-on favourite, they need not have fretted.

Roaring Lion and Murphy were the stars in equal measure.

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