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Post Info TOPIC: Conspiracy : Shergar and a 25-year-old mystery

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Conspiracy : Shergar and a 25-year-old mystery

Was it the IRA? Or the Mafia? Or even Colonel Gadaffi? The abduction of the Derby-winning racehorse remains one of the great unsolved crimes of the twentieth century

The kidnapping of champion racehorse Shergar remains one of Britains most baffling whodunnits. For two decades, the disappearance of the celebrated Derby winner has been shrouded in a fog of mystery and conspiracy theories. Shergar (born 1978. Sire: Great Nephew, Dam: Sharmeen) was an acclaimed racehorse, and winner of the 1981 Epsom Derby by a record 10 lengths, the longest winning margin in the race's 226-year history. This victory earned him a spot in The Observer newspaper's 100 Most Memorable Sporting Moments of the Twentieth Century. A bay colt with a distinctive white blaze, Shergar was named European Horse of the Year in 1981. Bred by his owner Prince Karim Aga Khan IV in County Kildare, close to the stud from which he was kidnapped, Shergar began training with Michael Stoute at Newmarket. His debut race in 1981 was the Guardian Classic Trial at Sandown Park. Racing correspondent Richard Baerlein, after watching the colt win by 10 lengths famously advised race-goers that "at 8-1, Shergar for the Derby, now is the time to bet like men".

On Tuesday 8 February 1983, a foggy winter's evening in Ireland, a group of men wearing balaclavas and armed with guns turned up at the Ballymany Stud Farm in Co Kildare. It was a visit that would go down in horseracing history. With one hostage already taken Jim Fitzgerald, the stud's head groom the men had come to take another. "We've come for Shergar," they said. "We want 2m for him."

Shergar was arguably the greatest racehorse to have ever lived. But 25 years after he was kidnapped from Ballymany the mystery of exactly what happened to him after he was snatched that night still lingers.

Then, as now, the story was one that gripped the world. From racing enthusiasts to ordinary members of the public, everyone wanted to know who had taken Shergar, why they had done so and what became of him. And then, as now, no definite answers were forthcoming.

The theories are numerous with the IRA, Colonel Gadaffi and the Mafia featuring among the most lurid. One story suggests that the IRA kidnapped the horse for Gadaffi in return for weapons. Gadaffi's motive for wanting the horse was said to stem from his belief that he should lead the Islamic people rather than the direct descendants of the Prophet Mohamed, such as the Aga Khan one of Shergar's owners.

Another theory is that the New Orleans mafia took Shergar. Frenchman Jean Michel Gambet, so the tale went, borrowed money from the mafia to buy a horse from the Aga Khan, the deal collapsed and Gambet apparently spent the money. Gambet was found dead in a car in Kentucky, but the mafia felt they were still owed a horse from the Aga Khan and took Shergar.

However, the most probable and likely version of events is that Shergar was taken by the Provisional IRA, who demanded a multimillion-pound ransom from the owners to fund purchases of weapons so it could continue its fight against the British presence in Northern Ireland.

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