Rider Prendergast placed in coma after Ballingarry fall
The point-to-point campaign in Ireland has ended on a sombre note as it emerged that young rider Shane Prendergast was placed in an induced coma after suffering head and back injuries when his mount Jack The Snake slipped up in the last race on Sunday's card at Ballingarry.
A son of Carlow trainer Luke Prendergast, the 19-year-old was completing his first full season in the saddle when his mount came down on a bend on the final circuit at the County Tipperary venue.
Prendergast has been diagnosed with bruising on his brain and fractures to his T6 and T7 vertebrae, but the Turf Club's chief medical officer Dr Adrian McGoldrick is "cautiously optimistic" the teenager, who was airlifted to the Midlands Regional Hospital in Tullamore, will make a full recovery.
"He's intensive care in Tullamore," said McGoldrick on Tuesday. "He has a head injury and was put in an induced coma for that. He also has two fractured vertebrae in his back, his T6 and T7, between his shoulder blades.
"It's a case of taking him out of the induced coma over the next couple of days, and then transferring him to the Mater spinal unit [in Dublin] for surgery on his back.
"At this stage, there's nothing to indicate there's any permanent spinal damage. The next week will tell us a lot but I'd be cautiously optimistic for him."
Of the head injury, McGoldrick added: "Shane has some bruising on the brain but that doesn't need surgery, and it would be the norm to put him in an induced coma in those circumstances.
"He'll have a repeat scan today and they're hoping to start taking him out of the induced coma today, and that will take a few days. The fact that he doesn't require surgery is encouraging. Obviously jockeys suffer a lot of traumatic brain injuries, but they can make a full recovery."
It has been an attritional season for young point-to-point riders, as Stella McGrath also suffered serious head and back injuries following a fall at Glenbane in November.
The 21-year-old from Innishannon in County Cork is out of rehab and making a "slow but steady" recovery, McGoldrick confirmed, and he was also pleased to acknowledge the recovery of Karen Kenny.
Off the track for nearly two years after a fall on the Flat at Tramore in 2014, Kenny rode her first winner since returning to the saddle when successful on Flan Costello's Hard Times at Listowel on Sunday.
"Karen suffered a bilateral brain haemorrhage, so it was brilliant to see her back on a winner," McGoldrick said.
"It has been a tough season for the point-to-point riders, but that goes with the territory, unfortunately.
"Stella is doing pretty well, she's making a slow but steady recovery. She has finished rehab at [the National Rehabilitation Hospital] in Dun Laoghaire and that will be followed up with rehab as an outpatient over the next 18 months."
A Gofundme webpage has been set up to raise money in support of Prendergast's rehabilitation.