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Sunday, 20 January, 2019

Prendergast continues recuperation from Ballingarry fall

Shane Prendergast: hopes to return to race riding in next couple of months
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Nineteen-year-old point-to-point rider Shane Prendergast is hopeful he may yet be able to return to the saddle as he recovers from the fall at Ballingarry in which he suffered bruising on his brain and fractures to his T6 and T7 vertebrae.

Just five months on from the incident that left him in an induced coma, Prendergast has his sights set on a riding return in the next few months after making giant strides in a relatively short time.

"I'd call myself a good 90 per cent right again," he told the Racing Post. "The whole right side of my body was paralysed for a good while but the movement is 100 per cent again and the strength of it is very good; it's just the right arm that isn't as fast, but it's getting better every day."

After slipping up in the concluding race on the card at the County Tipperary venue, Prendergast was airlifted to the Midlands Regional Hospital in Tullamore before visiting the spinal unit of the Mater Hospital in Dublin.

He added: "The doctors in Dublin were happy the vertebrae didn't need surgery but I had a back brace on for three and a half months.

"They've told me the bones in my back are 100 per cent. The muscles are all tight and kind of messed up, and they may take a while to come right, but they were half-tight before I got the fall."

Reflecting on the incident, Prendergast, who had had just over 20 rides and recorded three seconds in his short career, said: "I suppose it was a worrying time for everyone at home.

"It was five months ago and although five months is a long time, when you think about how bad the injury was I'm doing well."

He added: "All the doctors never thought at the time I'd be this far along in five months – they felt it might take a year to get to this point. I can walk and do anything I want to now."

Prendergast becomes most effusive when horses are mentioned and the flame still burns bright for a return to the saddle.

He said: "It's a huge desire to get back on a horse. I should be back riding out around February or March, and although I might not get approved for a licence due to the brain injury causing the speed difference in my arm, I'll be optimistic in the long run – maybe a year." 

He added: "My dad has a few horses at home and it's been an great lift to be able to give him a hand. I just love being around horses, it'd be different if I didn't have them."

Speaking of the support of the racing and local communities that have rallied round, Prendergast said: "There were great fundraisers for me in pubs locally and I'm grateful to each of them for their support, as well as a girl called Emily Curran, who set up a brilliant online fund.

"Everyone has helped me so much – I actually can't thank them enough. There has been €18,000 raised, and their support means the world."

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I just love being around horses, it'd be different if I didn't have them

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S Prendergast
E.W. Terms
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