'He's a legend and still absolutely loves the game' - Kevin Prendergast at 90
The legendary Kevin Prendergast will turn 90 on Tuesday and the evergreen trainer celebrated the occasion by playing 18 holes of golf on the eve of the milestone.
Family and friends will come from near and far to celebrate with the multiple Classic-winning trainer and, in typically witty fashion, when it was put to him that it was nice to mark the milestone, he replied: "I don't know whether it is or not, I've never been there before."
Prendergast remains as hungry as ever despite managing a smaller team. His most recent Group 1 victory came courtesy of Awtaad in the Irish 2,000 Guineas in 2016 but he is still on the lookout for a new superstar. Indeed, he may already have one in the stable in the shape of Mehnah.
The four-year-old has been seen only three times and is unlucky not to be unbeaten as her sole defeat was by a short-head in a 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown last year. Her last appearance was when winning a Listed race at Killarney in July of last year but her return is imminent.
Prendergast said: "I don't have as many as I used to, we only have a small string now, but I've been keeping well and I feel great. Mehnah is doing well and on the way back. I'm happy with her and the plan is for her to run at Gowran on July 23."
Nobody knows Prendergast better than Chris Hayes and the rider remains as amazed as ever by his enthusiasm for the game.
Hayes said: "I started with him in 2003 and his hunger and desire for the game is incredible. I don't know anybody like him and never will.
"He heads to the yearling sales every year and the excitement he gets from waiting to see if any of the ones he bought are any good is still as big as ever. He just lives for the game and he's still going strong. He is always on the lookout for the next one, the next real good one, and I dearly he hope he gets another one. He deserves one.
"His routine has always been the same, nothing changes. Tomorrow [Tuesday] is work morning and he will be the first one in. He will watch the three lots, then walk the dogs. Then he will organise everything and possibly have a bite of lunch. Then he'll go and play his nine or 18 holes of golf. He's back in the evening to check his horses and then he will watch all the racing."
'He's a true legend'
Hayes said he has a unique relationship with the birthday boy.
"He wouldn't be shy about telling you if you gave one a bad ride. He'd ring me up and say, 'You gave that a terrible ride. What were you doing?' That's him. But, at the same time, he'd tell you when you gave one a good ride and he was one of the first to ring me up after Homeless Songs won the Guineas earlier this year.
"The thing I love about him is that nothing ever festers. We have had our disagreements over the years but nothing is ever thrown back in your face. You ride for him in the next race and everything is forgotten. I love that about him. He's a true legend. He's unique. A one-off."
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