Four held after kidnapped champion greyhound Clares Rocket found
Kidnappers who took a star greyhound from a kennel while his owner was visiting family in Belfast demanded a ransom, the trainer has revealed.
Clares Rocket was reported to be safe and well following the ordeal and enjoyed a treat of sirloin steak after he was returned to the yard of trainer Graham Holland in Co Tipperary.
The greyhound man said it was fantastic to have been reunited with the two-year-old champion at a garda station on Tuesday evening.
"We have had a great year this year. We were lucky enough to win the derby and it was the same elation over again, it was like winning the derby," Mr Holland said.
Gardai launched an investigation after the two-year-old, who has won over €50,000 in prize money and is being tipped as a favourite for the 2017 English Derby with a prize of about €300,000, went missing from the premises in Athassel Abbey between Sunday evening and Monday morning.
Mr Holland was in Belfast with his wife Nicky visiting one of his sons when the kidnappers struck.
Gardai said four men were arrested in the Tipperary area on Tuesday evening when the dog was recovered.
He was said to be in good condition but a little distressed. Mr Holland revealed a ransom had been demanded but declined to say how much the gang wanted. "People thought they could hold him to ransom," he told RTE Radio's Today with Sean O'Rourke programme.
"It's a bit like Shergar. If they haven't got their identity book they can't do a lot with him. He's only worth money to the people who own him and what he can win for them or stand at stud.
"Obviously it's not the same thing, you do think of Shergar and they never recovered him. You just fear the worst - that whoever stole him would dispose of him and run for the hills. Luckily enough, as I say, the gardai did great work and we are absolutely delighted." Mr Holland said that on his day, Clares Rocket is probably the fastest dog in Ireland but in reality his value at stud is below the one million euro reported in the wake of his kidnap.
"It's not the same as horses. The stud fees aren't as high. I would imagine, not in reality," he said.
The champion dog, winner of the Champion Stakes and the Produce Stakes, was microchipped. He is owned by the Full House Syndicate in the Limerick area. Two of those arrested were held at Tipperary Town Garda Station and two at Clonmel station.