Shane Prendergast – I was in a coma for a week…. Thank god it’s just a memory now!


Leading up for Tony Mullins
Leading up for Tony Mullins

One year ago, Shane had a fall from a horse in a Point to Point race. Today, he tells us his story…..

1 – Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m 19 years of age. I’ve been into horses from the day I was born and was working with horses from the day I learned to walk. I left school when I was 16 and went into full time employment with the racehorses and got my jockey licence .

Shane riding a winner before amateur licence, pony riding


In June 2017 I had a serious injury in a point to point race which sadly ended my riding career

2 – Did you always want to be involved with racing And who, was your racing hero?

Yes from the day I was born I always wanted to become a jockey . I always wanted to be Sir Tony McCoy, he was my racing hero.

Shane aged 15 with A P McCoy
Shane aged 15 with A P McCoy


3 – Having got an Amateur license, you rode on the flat & PTP, can you tell us how different they are?

Amateur flat races are ran on the real racecourse and are usually ran over a distance of 1mile 4 furlong up to 2 mile 4 furlongs on the flat with no jumps.

A point to point is not ran on a real racecourse, they are run in a farmers field with the course marked out prior to the fixture date. A point to point is run over a distance of  3 miles jumping fences. At most point to point races, there are 15 fences to be jumped. Some courses only have 12 or 13 fences to be jumped and some have 16 or 17.

The point to points are where most National Hunt horses begin their racing career. As point to points aren’t run on the real racecourse everything from the stewards room to the weigh tent are all set up prior to the fixture date.


Shane in a point to point for Willie Murphy
Shane in a point to point for Willie Murphy

4 – What was your best performance on the race track? Flat and PTP?

I completed one full season point to pointing. I had 26 rides , I didn’t get the taste of riding my first winner unfortunately, I finished second a few times and the closest I came to getting a winner was on a mare called Steel Dawn for Daryl Deacon in Oldcastle Point to Point , she finished a close second.I had 8 rides on the flat as an amateur. My best performance there was on a horse called Aaron’s Choice for Paddy Meany, he finished 4th at Kilbeggan racecourse.


5 – Can you tell us about the experience of working for Willie Mullins? And did you get to ride any of the big stars?

Working for Willie Mullins was a great experience. I learned loads there. I was riding good horses everyday and riding with the best of horsemen. I worked there for 1 year. When I started working there I was a very average rider and very agricultural on a horse. After working there for a year my riding improved a massive amount and i got my jockey licence. I learned from the best of people and got to sit on the best horses. I also had the pleasure to ride some great horses like Felix Younger, Limini, Apples Jade and Max Dynamite.


6 – You had a very serious accident, how is the recovery coming along?

On the 4th June 2017 I got a very bad fall in a point to point race in Balingarry . I was riding a horse called Jack The Snake and he slipped up going around a bend. I fractured 2 vertebrae’s and got a lot of swelling to the brain. I was in an induced coma for a week and when I woke up the right side of my body was completely paralysed. I was airlifted to Tullamore hospital and spend two and a half months there.

When I came out of Tullamore hospital I was getting a huge amount of Physiotherapy and occupational therapy. 8 months later the National Rehabilitation Hospital called me off the waiting list. I spent a month up there. They have a very good therapy for fatigue  and memory issues after the brain injury. I am at 90 per cent now and to look at me you wouldn’t think I ever had a fall.

I’m still getting Rehabilitation Physiotherapy with Theresa McGinn in Kilkenny Physiotherapy and they are very, very good there. The right side of my body is 90 per cent, speed and strength wise at the moment but to look at me you wouldn’t think there’s any difference.

The paralysis to the right side of my body was caused by the brain injury. I will never be 100 per cent again but I am able to do anything that I have to do without any problems and the team at Kilkenny Physiotherapy are still getting steady improvement out of me. The fantastic team in Kilkenny Physiotherapy are doing Pilates classes with me and Rehabilitation exercises in the gym. I have now finished getting occupational therapy  with the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoighre. I was getting Occupational Therapy for the brain damage but that’s fine again now thank god.

I just have very, very  slight memory loss at times  but it’s very, very  slight. I will be medically cleared fit to return to driving in October as well. The only thing that I feel effects me the most is fatigue.

Fatigue is feeling exhausted and tired and a lack of energy level. My fatigue level is about 70 per cent now but I have learned a lot about managing the fatigue when I was in the National Rehabilitation Hospital and I can now do anything that I need to do and I’m fully independent.

Unfortunately I won’t get to ride horses again but there’s plenty of other career options to get into

7 – What does the future hold for Shane Prendergast and are we likely to see you in the Winners Enclosure saddling your first winner?

The future will see me always keeping an interest in the horse racing industry. In September I am going back to full time education. Il be in full time education for 4 or 5 years which will have me with a full qualification when I’m 24. When I get qualified I will have a Monday to Friday job and I will always have time to work with a couple of horses. My father Luke used to train a few horses and I’m very lucky that there is full horse training facilities at home.

My career plan is to always have a couple of horses at home to do in my own time and i do plan to have a horse trainers licence some day. Without a shadow of a doubt , it’s the one life ambitions that I have.

One day you will see the name Shane Prendergast saddling his first winner in the winners enclosure. I plan to start from the bottom and work my way up. In the long run ,however long it takes me, I hope to someday be working full time as a horse trainer.


8 – And finally, we always ask for a couple of horses to follow, they can be from either code…..
I worked with a very nice horse last year in Willie Murphys point to point yard , Global Citizen , he’s in training now with Ben Pauling in England and he has won a few nice races and hel win plenty more , Global Citizen

We would like to thank Shane for his time and wish him all the best in his ongoing rehabilitation. The determination he has shown is incredible and it show’s how one moment can change your life.

We wish Shane all the best in his education and hopefully, we will see him saddling his first winner.

Interview by Rich Williams

Photo’s Courtesy of Shane Prendergast