PIDGET (SR 1824)
Pidget, a grey filly by Fortino out of Primlace, was foaled in 1969 by her owner Norman Frank Butler and sent to Ireland to be trained by Kevin Prendergast. Her two-year-old career was unspectacular, racing 3 times, winning a lowly maiden, but providing few hints about the riches she would reap at three. Her 3-year-old career was launched at Baldoyle in the Spring Stakes where she won impressively, before occupying the runner-up spot in the Group 3 Athasi Stakes at the Curragh. She then won the Bedford Guineas Trial at Phoenix Park, albeit by a neck, but was not fancied by the general public in the Irish 1000 Guineas where she was allowed to go off at 20/1. Ridden confidently by Wally Swinburn, she tracked the leaders before being sent forward at the 3-furlong pole, holding off the persistent effort of the favourite to win in determined fashion by half a length. Although she did not show her true ability when crossing the Irish Sea to contest the Epsom Oaks, where she finished 8th behind Ginevra, her team was confident there was more to come. It was in the Irish St Leger where she displayed her outstanding ability despite being sent off at 13/2 behind Our Mirage (evens fav), winning by a comfortable 2 lengths. Her racing career beyond 3 was unimpressive, but the only way one can get a true sense of why she did so well at 3, but lost her form at 4, is from her 17-year-old handler Derick 'Spider' Quinn who handled her throughout her early career. Derick comments,’'Pidget came to the stables in September 1970. I was 16 years old. She was a big leggy grey filly, but full of spirit. The boss, Kevin Prendergast, wanted me to look after her as she was highly strung. She showed this by kicking me out of the box until I gained her trust. There were not many she would let near her, and we built up a great bond. She was not ridden out much and had to be led out to the gallops with Charlie the pony. I travelled to every race meeting with her because she had a mind of her own, and if she stopped in the parade ring, I would have to get on her back to make her walk. We really fancied her for the Irish 1000 Guineas. On the night before the Guineas me, and the head lad, stopped up all night with a loaded shot gun. This was to prevent anyone from trying to dope her. When she won it was one of the best days of my life. I was only 17 and to lead up a Classic winner was awesome. The owner, Norman Butler, missed her winning because of being held up in traffic. Then she won the Pretty Polly Stakes before taking the Irish St Leger. What a year for me and my best friend. My five-year apprenticeship finished in June 1973 and I moved on to pastures new. It was one of my saddest days having to say goodbye to my friend Pidget; she never won again, and must have missed me as much as I missed her'