Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

30 things worth knowing about Shergar

Three decades after the kidnap of the legendary racehorse Shergar from his stables in Co Kildare, John Mulgrew looks at some of the facts and theories surrounding one of the most infamous and shocking sporting stories in modern history

Shergar with Aga Khan in 1980
Shergar with Aga Khan in 1980
Racing journalists at Heathrow bound for Belfast to attempt to negotiate the release of the horse from IRA kidnappers in 1983
Racing journalists at Heathrow bound for Belfast to attempt to negotiate the release of the horse from IRA kidnappers in 1983

Three decades after the kidnap of the legendary racehorse Shergar from his stables in Co Kildare, John Mulgrew looks at some of the facts and theories surrounding one of the most infamous and shocking sporting stories in modern history

1 Shergar was one of the most famous and successful racehorses of his time – winning the 1981 Epsom Derby by a record 10 lengths.

2 It is believed he was kidnapped by the IRA on the night of February 8, 1983 from the Ballymany Stud Farm in Co Kildare.

3 The horse was owned by the Aga Khan and his family.

4 He was taken by a gang of armed men – one dressed in a Garda uniform

5 It was reported his kidnappers had shouted they wanted £2m in ransom for the horse's safe return.

6 They also wanted the cash paid in £100 notes.

7 His groom James Fitzgerald was forced to help load Shergar onto a double horse box.

8 The kidnap was the first of its kind in Ireland.

9 One theory of was that the Mafia had rustled Shergar from the Aga Khan.

10 Nicknamed Shergar the Wonder Horse, he had been valued by Lloyds of London at £10m.

11 No one involved in the brazen theft has ever been brought to justice.

12 His trainer Michael Stoute was quoted as saying he was the "best horse I have ever trained and I only hope to God nothing happens to him".

13 In his one and only breeding season Shergar sired 35 offspring.

14 A ransom of £2m was phoned through on the morning of February 10.

15 He was named European Horse of the Year in 1981.

16 It is believed the kidnappers mistakenly believed that Shergar belonged solely to the Aga Khan, when in fact the horse was owned by 34 members of a syndicate.

17 Shareholders refused to pay the money to deter future kidnappings.

18 A decade after his disappearance, former IRA man Sean O'Callaghan named seven Provisional IRA members who he said had carried out the kidnap.

19 It was more than four hours after his kidnapping before the gardai were alerted and an investigation began.

20 Insurers refused to pay out without evidence of the horse's death.

21 There were rumours the prized animal had been seized for Colonel Gaddafi in return for arms being supplied to the IRA.

22 Nobody gained from the crime – the kidnappers never got their money.

23 Recent reports said the horse had a bloody death when one of his handlers opened fire with a machine-gun.

24 A pit was reportedly dug in mountains near Ballinamore in Co Leitrim where the body may have been buried.

25 The Shergar Cup was inaugurated in his honour at Goodwood Racecourse in 1999.

26 The disappearance of Shergar was made into a Hollywood film.

27 During his brief and successful years he had six wins, totalling £436,000.

28 One conspiracy said Shergar was still alive and producing foals.

29 A skull found in 2000 thought to belong to Shergar was in fact from a much younger animal.

30 It was reported Shergar's theft by the IRA was over the misapprehension that a missing horse would cause less of a public outcry than a human kidnapping.

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