Case File #0057
The Racehorse Kidnapping Case
"We have come for Shergar"
The British-trained thoroughbred racehorse Shergar enjoyed a successful racing history, having a promising first season in 1980 before going on to win five out six races in 1981. He came first in the 202nd Epsom Derby, winning by the longest margin in the race's history, and then went onto win the Irish Sweeps Derby three weeks later. The following month he came first in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, winning by four lengths, and in his final race he came fourth. Sherhar's owner, the Aga Khan, decided to retire the Stallion to the Ballymany Stud Farm in County Kildare, Ireland, and there on 8 February 1983, three masked gunmen entered the home of head groom Jim Fitzgerald, threatening him and his family and declaring they had come for the horse. The kidnappers removed Shergar from his stable and threatened to kill Fitzgerald if he contacted the police, telling him they would soon request a ransom for the kidnapping, which was set at £2 million for his safe return. With mounting speculation in the press that Shergar had been killed, the thieves left several polaroid photographs of the horse as proof. It seemed the gang mistakenly believed the Aga Khan was the sole owner, when in reality Shergar was owned by a syndicate made up of 34 other shareholders. Negotiations soon ended without a ransom agreement and the kidnappers were never heard from again. Despite a lengthy investigation which included the suspected involvement of the IRA, Shergar was never located and his whereabouts have remained a mystery.
Shergar was foaled on 3 March 1978 at Sheshoon, which was near the Curragh Racecourse in County Kildare, Ireland, and was the private stud of the Aga Khan IV, Prince Shah Karim al Hussaini. He was sired by Great Nephew, a British Stallion whose prestigious wins included the Prix Dollar and the Prix du Moulin in France in 1967. Great Nephew would sire other champion progeny such as Mrs. Penny, Tolmi and Grundy, whilst Shergar's dam was Sharmeen, a seventh generation descendant of Mumtaz Mahal, a horse who was described by the National Sporting Library as "one of the most important broodmares of the 20th Century." With such a pure pedigree and racing lineage, the thoroughbred Shergar would be destined for the racecourses. The bay colt was easily recognisable by having a distinctive white blaze, with four white socks and a wall blue eye, which was less common in horses. In 1978, the Aga Khan announced he would be sending some of his yearlings to England for training and he chose trainer Michael Stoute, who was based at Newmarket, because of his success that year. Stoute had trained the winners of the Yorkshire Oaks and Irish Oaks with Fair Salinia, and the Gold Cup with Shangamuzo. In 1979, Shergar was sent to Stoute for training, in what would be the Aga Khan's second year of sending horses to England. The manager of the Aga Khan's Irish studs was Frenchman Ghislain Drion, who along with Stoute described Shergar as easy to break, with a good temperament, and who responded very well to the training. In 1980, jockey Lester Piggot rode him in the run-up to Shergar's racing debut.


Placed in the Kris Plate, two-year-old Shergar ran his first race on 19 September 1980 with Piggot in the saddle. The race had been open to two-year-old colts and geldings over a 1 mile straight at Newbury, and Shergar was listed as favourite with odds of 11-8. During the race, he kept pace behind the leaders before opening up and winning by 2 and half lengths. The racing correspondent for the Observer, Richard Baerlein, believed Shergar's run was the best from a two-year-old that season, and trainer Stoute said the horse would run one more race that year before resting until the following season. Shergar's final race of the year was the 1 mile William Hill Futurity Stakes at Doncaster on 25 October 1980. With odds of 5-2, he was ridden once again by Piggot, in an experienced field of seven other horses. For most of the race, Shergar strode behind the pace-setting leader and once that horse began to tire, Beldale Flutter ridden by Pat Eddery took up the lead. Shergar made an attempt and challenged for the lead but Beldale Flutter pulled away and won by 2 and half lengths, with Shergar coming in second. Despite taking second, Shergar's run was described by racing correspondents and observers as significant, and he was called "a magnificent stamp of a horse". Racing pundits were keeping a close eye on him after he was given odds of 25-1 for the following years Epsom Derby.
By early April 1981, the three-year-old Shergar had filled out and grown stronger so Stoute decided to enter him into that year's Epsom Derby in June, and planned several races beforehand. The first race was the Guardian Newspaper Classic Trial, which took place at Sandown on 25 April 1981, and Shergar was ridden by jockey Walter Swinburn. In the 9 horse, 1 and quarter mile race, Shergar gained his pace after a mile and won by ten-lengths. After the race his odds shortened to 8-1 and some commentators like Baerlein predicted them going to down 4-1 or less, and urged the public to place their bets on what he believed was an excellent display. After further training, Stoute made the decision that Shergar needed more practice on a left-hand course and entered him into the Chester Vase on 5 May 1981. In what was his most astonishing win so far, Sherhar kept pace with the leaders, and with half a mile to go, Swinburn urged him forward and he overtook for a clear win by 12 lengths. Ridden by Swinburn once again, Shergar ran in the Derby at Epsom Downs Racecourse on 3 June 1981. At the start of the uphill straight course, he moved through the other runners and was well-placed, then at the final bend of the course at Tattenham Corner, he took the front and opened up a lead on the others. With only two furloughs to go, Swinburn eased of the pace and won by a lead of 10 lengths, the largest winning margin of an Epsom Derby. By now Shergar was gaining a reputation as one of the finest racing horses some commentators had ever seen.

Shergar winning the Epsom Derby (1981)

On 15 June, as he was out on the gallops, Shergar threw his rider and ran though a hegde onto the road and made his way towards the local village. There he was spotted by a local resident, who following him until he stopped to graze and then led him back to the stables. Although he was unharmed during the incident, trainer Stoute believed it was lucky nothing happened to him. Because of an infringement at Royal Ascot, Swinbrn had been suspended and replaced by Piggot who returned to ride Shergar at the Irish Derby at Curragh on 27 June 1981. Starting off well, Shergar reached third place by the half-way point, but soon increased his pace to take the lead with three furloughs to go. As he reached the last furlough, Piggot slowed and won by four lengths. Commentators were not surpised by Shergar's performance, and after the race Piggot told reporters he never doubted the Shergar would win as he never struggled during a race. He also said that Shergar was one of the best horses he had ever raced on. The horse had now endeared himself to the British public, with his unusual habit of galloping to victory with his tongue lolling out.
After the win a Epson Derby, a group of American horse owners offered to syndicate the horse for $40 million, however the Aga Khan turned them down, and instead decided to syndicate Shergar himself for £10 million at £250,000 for each of the forty shares, which was considered a record price during that time. Six shares were kept by the Aga Khan himself and the others were sold individually to buyers from nine different countries, which each shareholders having the option each year of selecting a mare to be covered, or of selling that option on. The stud fees were around £60,000 to £80,000 per cover, which meant that within four years the shareholders could expect to make a profit from the stud. Shergar was rested for almost a month before Stoute entered him for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot on 25 July 1981. At the beginning the pace was slow and Shergar became boxed in by the other horses, but Piggot managed to find a way out by the time the leaders reached the final straight and accelerated to win by four lengths. Baerlein once again praised him as the best horse he had ever seen. But other correspondents, such as Michael Phillips of the Times wrote that the win, "proved that Shergar is a cut above the average but not exceptional." He went on to describe how Shergar did not provide the same level of racing finesse as Mill Reef or Nijinsky who both won at Ascot.
The Aga Khan wanted to place Shergar into the Prix de l'Arc Triomphe that autumn, but decided he would need one more race to prepare. He was entered into what would be his final race, the St. Leger Stakes at Doncaster on 12 September 1981, with Swinburn as jockey. A story was published by the racing newspaper Sporting Life ten days before the race, which stated that Shergar had not been practising well and had been described as "mulish", meaning he was resembling or likened to a stubborn mule. Stoute immediately issued a statement denying the story was truthful. At Doncaster Shergar began running well, despite his dislike of the soft ground, but on the final straight he refused to respond when Swinburn tried to get him to accelerate to the front and he eventually came in fourth, 11 and half lengths behind the winner Cut Above. Surprised and alarmed at this loss, the Aga Khan had Stoute run a series of tests, which all showed the horse to be in good health and responding well towards training after the race. Unwilling to risk entering Shergar in the Arc without knowing why he failed to respond at St. Leger, the Aga Khan decided to retire him to the Ballymany Stud near the Curragh.

The Aga Khan with Shergar

Once again the he was offered large amounts of money to put Shergar to stud in the US, but the Aga Khan refused, and Shergar arrived in Ireland in October 1981. Considered a national hero there, he was paraded down the main street of Newbridge, County Kildare. During his first and only rutting season in 1982, Shergar covered 44 mares, from which 36 foals were produced, including 17 colts and 19 fillies. Although he was considered to have above average racing prowess, his progeny proved to be disappointing, with only three winning group races and the most successful, Authaal, being sold for 3.1 million guineas, and winning the Irish St. Leger by five lengths. By the time of his second stud season at the start of February 1983, Shergar was in high demand, with a full roster of 55 mares to cover, with an expected income of £1 million for the season.
On 8 February, shortly after 8:30pm, there was a knock on the door of 53-year-old Jim Fitzgerald's home, the head groom at the Ballymany stud. His son Bernard answered it and came face to face with three masked gunmen who barged their way inside the house and started shouting threats at the family. "We have come for Shergar," one of the men said, "we can £2 million for him". At least one of the men carried a pistol and at gunpoint, Mr Fitzgerald was forced to lead the gang to Shergar's table and ordered to load the horse onto a stolen horsebox which they had brought with them. At this point there were as many as eight masked gunmen on the scene, and whilst two stayed behind to guard the groom's family, Mr. Fitzgerald was forced into a van with three others. He was told to lie down and his face was covered with a coat. The gunman continued to act aggressively towards the captive, who was instructed to expect a ransom demand. The gang said they would use the phrase "King Neptune", so he would know it genuine. After being driven for four hours he was released 20 miles away from Ballymany and ordered out of the car. The gunman told to him keep walking, not to turn around and not to call the police and eventually he was able to arrive at the next village of Kilcock and contact his brother.

The Ballymany Stud from where Shergar was taken

He was told not to contact the Garda Siochana or he and his family would be killed, but to wait for the gang to make contact. When he got back home, Fitzgerald found his family had been left unharmed, and he promptly telephoned the stud manager, Ghislain Drion and told him of the theft, but urged him not to contact the police because of the threats made against his family. Drion then attempted to to speak with the Aga Khan in Switzerland, but when this failed he phoned Shergar's vet, Stan Cosgrove, who in turn contacted his friend, former Army Officer Captain Sean Berry. Local Irish MP Alan Dukes was then woken by a phonecall from Berry informing him of Shergar's kidnapping. Because Dukes had to deliver his first budget the next day, he passed Berry on to Justice Minister Michael Noonen, who suggested they call police. It would not be until 4:00am when Drion made contact with the Aga Khan who was alerted to the situation, and who told him to phone the Garda immediately. It was then that one of the biggest security operations in the Republic's history was launched.
The initial investigation was hampered by the trail already going cold, with eight hours having passed since Shergar was stolen, and the police faced mounting pressure. Their ability to catch the thieves with Shergar was also made more difficult due to a local Thoroughbred auction, which meant several horseboxes were travelling in the area. Chief Superintendent James Murphy was placed in charge of the investigation. Known for his strong Irish brogue, fondness for wearing a trilby hat and his self-effacing sense of humour, Murphy was described in one documentary on the case as, "the most richly comic copper since Inspector Clouseau." Nonetheless he was a highly experienced detective, and although he did admit during his first press conference that he had no leads in the theft, he was also holding back significant information from the media, including the discovery of an ammunition magazine from a Steyr MPi 69 submachine gun located at the Ballymany stud, which suggested a possible link to an IRA active service unit in South Armagh.

Chief Superintendent James Murphy

The Aga Khan was hesitant to enter into negotiations for the safe return of the prize horse, mainly because he was just one of 35 syndicate members and was not authorised to negotiate or pay on their behalf. He was also unsure who had stolen the horse, or even if Shergar would be safely returned in the event the money was paid. There were concerns that if the kidnapper's demands were met, it would set a precedence and every high value horse in Ireland would be a potential target for future thefts. Some shareholders such as Brian Sweeney believed the ransom should be paid, whilst others such as Lord Derby disagreed, fearing other horses would suffer a similar fate. Robert Sangster, who headed the syndicate, declared that no ransom would be paid no matter the circumstances. Interviewed by the Garda about his ordeal, Jim Fitzgerald could offer little about the masked men who raided the stud. Some investigators suspected IRA involvement, although the kidnappers never gave any indication with whom they were affiliated, however Fitzgerald did say that one of the men spoke with a Northern Irish accent.
The thieves made their first phone call regarding Shergar on the evening he was stolen, before Mr. Fitzgerald returned to the Ballymany stud and before news of the kidnapping had been revealed. The call was made to Jerermy Maxwell, a horse trainer based in Northern Ireland. Using the phrase "King Neptune", the caller made an initial demand for £40,000, although this was later raised to £52,000, and he instructed Maxwell that the negotiations would only be conducted with three British horse racing journalists, Peter Crampling of the Sun Newspaper and Derek Thompson and John Oaksey of ITV. The three men were told to be at the Europa Hotel in central Belfast by Thursday evening. When they arrived at the hotel, they were contacted by the thieves and told to go to Maxwell's house and await further instructions. The police instructed Thompson to keep the kidnappers on the phone for as long as possible, but after 80 seconds the caller rang off before the call could be traced. Later that night there were a series of calls at Maxwell's house, and during one such call, Thompson managed to keep the caller on the line for over 90 seconds. This would have been enough to trace the call, but the person who worked tracing the call intercepts had finished his shift at midnight.
The next day, on 9 February, another line of communication was opened by thieves. At 4:05pm, a call was made directly to Ballymany Stud and Ghislain Brion spoke with one of the gang. because Brion was not a native English speaker, he struggled to understand the Irish accent of the caller, who in turn had a similar problem understanding Drion's heavy French pronunciation and hung up in frustration. After ninety minutes had passed the caller tried again, with Drion asking he speak slowly. The kidnappers made a series of ludicrous demands for the safe return of Shergar, including a demand for a £2 million ransom paid in £100 notes, which did not exist. In a call to Drion at 5:45pm, he was told to deliver the £2 million to Paris before noon the following day. When told this was impossible, the caller asked for a contact number in France, through which further negotiations would be made. They were given the number of the Aga Khan's French office, and in the meantime, the syndicate brought in the risk and strategic consulting firm Control Risks to handle the negotiations. Over the next four days they negotiated from the Paris office through a series of telephone calls.
In one call at 5:00pm, the Paris negotiators were told to get £2 million by the end of the night after the Parisian banks had closed. In another call, the negotiator was told to get agreement for a ransom, but that he should not contact anyone in Ireland, despite some of the shareholders being there. It soon became clear to the syndicate that the gang believed the Aga Khan was the sole owner of the horse, and they had no knowledge of the other shareholders. This meant they did not understand the complexity in organising and liaising with all 35 shareholders to come to a satisfactory agreement. There had been rampant speculation in the press that the racehorse might already be dead, and so on 11 February the negotiators demanded proof that Shergar was still alive.
The thieves requested that a representative of the syndicate go to the Crofton Hotel in Dublin and ask for any messages for "Johnny Logan", which was the name of an Irish singer. The syndicate sent Shergar's vet, Stan Cosgrove to the hotel, accompanied by armed members of the domestic security agency of the Gardai, known as the Special Detective Unit, who would be present in an under cover capacity. No messages were left and after waiting some time Cosgrove returned home. Shortly afterwards the negotiators received a call from the thieves, who were angry at the presence of the police and threatened that if any members of their organisation were captured or killed, the negotiators and police would be murdered in retribution.
On 12 February another call was received at Maxwell's house at 7:00am, and the caller announced, without giving details, that things had gone wrong and that Shergar was dead. Although the syndicate considered this latest call a hoax, the code-word "King Neptune" had been used by the caller. Another call received by the negotiators that Saturday morning directed them to the Rosnaree Hotel where the caller indicated that proof of Shergar being alive had been left. When it was collected, it contained several Polaroid photographs showing Shergar, some of which showed the horses head next to a copy of the Irish News, dated 11 February. Stan Cosgrove reportedly saw the photographs and confirmed, "It definitely was him", but added, "It wasn't proof that the horse was alive... at the point... you'd want to get much more definitive evidence... if you'd have seen the complete horse it would have been different, but this was just the head."

A Polaroid photograph allegedly showing Shergar

During a further call from the thieves that same evening at 10:40pm, it was explained the syndicate were not satisfied with the pictures of Shergar, which they explained, did not provide adequate proof. The caller then told the negotiators, "If you're not satisfied, that's it." The call was then abruptly ended and the thieves never made any further attempts to make contact. The syndicate attempted to re-establish contact with the gang, placing a request in newspaper ads, but there was never any response from the thieves. The syndicate committee compiled a report for the syndicate members, examining the possible motives behind the theft. It was their understanding that the theft of Shergar had been undertaken to either generate publicity, rather than obtaining the ransom, or that the negotiations had been conducted with naivety, resulting in their failure.
Despite the thieves closing all lines of communication, the police investigation continued, and Murphy continued to hold press conferences about the progress of the case. He would report that a number of "diviners, clairvoyants and psychic persons" contacted investigators to offer their paranormal services in catching thieves. At one press conference he announced, "A clue?, that is something we havent got". After eight days with no progress, Murphy was replaced as the public figure of the investigation, but would continue to lead it. A description given by Fitzgerald of the horsebox used by the thieves was released to the public on 16 February. It was described as either light blue or light green with no working lights and no license plates. Although the Gardai conducted a massive search in the Irish Republic and the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland, they found no trace of the horsebox. These searches did however find several IRA weapons caches and explosives, which were uncovered at numerous IRA safehouses. At one point upwards of 70 police officers were working the case, however two weeks after the theft, the search was scaled down significantly.

Murphy giving one of his press conferences

Many lines of enquiry were investigated, and with no leads on Shergar's whereabouts and little information released by the Gardai, the press soon began to cover the story with wild speculation. Some of the more outlandish stories included Shergar spotted being ridden by the missing Lord Lucan, that Shergar was stolen by Colonel Gaddafi as part of a deal to supply arms to the IRA and because he opposed the Aga Khan's role as a Muslim spiritual leader, and that a middle eastern horse breeder had stolen the Thoroughbred for stud. The New Orleans Mafia was also implicated in the theft, as part of a revenge plot to punish the Aga Khan over a previous horse sale which had ended badly. Baerlein would later observe that, "the press speculation was remarkable for its enthusiasm and its inaccuracy over a long period of time." There was even a suggestion that the syndicate which owned Shergar had orchestrated the kidnapping, because the horse was turning out to be less of a stud than anticipated. Most investigators strongly suspected the IRA of involvement, and the terrorist organisation became the prime suspects in the the racehorses theft.
Two months after Shergar was stolen, Stan Cosgrove was approached by senior Garda detectives who introduced him to horse trainer Dennis Minogue, who claimed to have contacts within the IRA, who had shown him a photograph of Shergar. Minogue was something of a expert horse dealer and had a great knowledge about horses, due to most his family being in the trade of traning and supplying horses. He told Cosgrove he could help get the horse released for a ransom of £80,000, and the Gardai asked him to assist them in a sting operation to help lure out the thieves. Cosgrove agreed, and the operation was set in motion on 20 July 1983, with detective Martin Kenirons assisting. He placed the ransom money in the boot of his car in a remote village, from where Minogue was to collect once the horse had been safely released. The next day Kenirons discovered the boot of his car had been forced open and the money stolen. Minogue had also disappeared, and the money was never traced. The Gardai launched an inquiry into the matter and Kenirons was subsequently dismissed from the force for breaching Gardai regulations. Kenirons would later protest his innocence over the affair, insisting he was used as a scapegoat by his superiors and said, "when it all went wrong, everyone jumped for the high ground. They all denied that they had anything to do with the random."
Shergar's shareholders had secured insurance through several different insurance companies, and all had different clauses in their contracts. The Lloyd's of London insurance brokers Hodgson McCreedy, which covered roughly 20 shareholders accouting for £3.6 million of the total, had added a theft clause to the policy, however six other shareholders, accountable for £1.5 million worth of shares did not have insurance that included a theft clause. The remaining shareholders, including the Aga Khan, accounting for £3 million worth of shares did not take out insurance. Shergar's vet, Stan Cosgrove's policy only covered the mortality only insurance, and Norwich Union refused to pay, even when it became clear that Shergar was probably dead. Although theft was clear-cut, Lloyd's of London believed that the demand of a ransom indicated extortion, rather than theft, meaning the mortality and theft policies did not have to be paid out. Despite strong reversations from Lloyd's of London about paying out, they sought legal advice and were advised to make payment. Those policies which included a theft clause were settled in full in June 1983.
Over the following years there would be many rumours of IRA involvement in Shergar's kidnapping, however there was never any definitive proof linking the terrorist organisation to the theft. In 1998, Sean O'Callaghan, a former member of the IRA who had been working within the group as an informant on behalf of the Gardaí since 1980, published an autobiographical account of his experiences in Irish Republican paramilitarism, entitled The Informer: The True Life Story of One Man's War on Terrorism. The book detailed his involvement in attacks on multiple IRA targets in Northern Ireland, the manufacture of bomb making materials, robberies to provide funding for the organisation and the biggest revelation which was the plot to kidnap and ransom Shergar. O'Callaghan claimed the operation was formulated by Kevin Mallon, a leading figure in the IRA who held a position on the Army Council, and who had devised the plan whilst serving a sentence at Portlaoise Prison. Mallon had been placed in charge of a Special Operations Unit tasked with raising several million pounds to fund future IRA military operations. O'Callaghan, who had held a position in the Kerry IRA Southern Command, claimed that several men were taken from under his command and assigned to Mallon's unit. These men included, Nicky Kehoe, Rab Butler, Paul Stewart and Gerry Fitzgerald.

IRA Commander Kevin Mallon

The plot was revealed to O'Callaghan roughly two weeks after Shergar's kidnapping, when Gerry Fitzgerald told him of his involvement in the theft, and that Shergar had been killed early during the operation after the horse became panicked and no-one present were experienced enough to calm the situation. It was during this incident that the horse damaged his left leg and those present made the decision to kill it, with O'Callaghan stating his autobiography that Shergar, "was killed within days" of the theft. O'Callaghan would claim during a 2004 interview for Irish broadcaster RTE that Gerry Fitzgerald had, "strongly suggested that Shergar had been killed within hours of his kidnap", and as a result the IRA had kept up a deception to ensure the negotiations continued.

IRA informer Sean OCallaghan

The IRA unit led by Kevin Mallon and Gerry Fitzgerald were also suspected in the kidnappings of several Irish Businessmen to raise funds. The organisation were constantly in need of funds to continue their armed struggle, and their military strategy required millions for arms, explosives and also money for the political activity of Sinn Féin. In October 1981, the IRA Army Council approved the kidnapping of Ben Dunne, who was at that time the head of the chain of Dunne Stores. The operation succeeded and Dunne was released a week later, however both the Gardaí and the Dunne family have persistently denied that a £300,000 ransom was paid out. Because of the success of Dunne's kidnapping, the IRA decided to undertake another ransom through kidnapping, this time they would target Shergar. When that operation failed, according to O'Callaghan, the IRA decided in August 1983 to orchestrate another kidnapping. Fitzgerald and his group attempted to kidnap businessman Galen Weston at his home in County Wicklow, however the Gardaí had been forewarned. Whilst Weston was in the UK, an operation was launched in the which police occupied his house and waited for the IRA members. In the ensuing gun battle, Gerry Fitzgerald, Kehoe and three other IRA men were arrested and would receive long prison sentences. O'Callaghan explained that, "Essentially the same team that went to kidnap Shergar went to kidnap Galen Weston".
A special investigation by the Sunday Telegraph in 2008 uncovered information on the kidnapping from another IRA member who claimed O'Callaghan had not been told the entire story. The anonymous man would state the full details of the operation was kept secret, "because the gang was so embarrassed by what happened". When it became clear the Aga Khan was not going to pay the ransom, the IRA realised they could not keep the horse any longer. The IRS source said matter was also made worse when an animal vet who had been arranged by the IRA to look after the horse had failed to show, because his wife threatened to leave him if he left his home, the Army Council ordered the horse to be released. Kevin Mallon believed he was under close surveillance and cautioned against this, chiefly because the Gardaí were conducting extensive searches for Shergar, and believed moving the horse would be too risky and so ordered the animal should be killed. The source claims that two IRA men went into the stable when Shergar was being held and with one of them carrying a machinegun, "Shergar was machine gunned to death. There was blood everywhere and the horse even slipped on his own blood. There was lots of cussin' and swearin' because the horse wouldn't die. It was a very bloody death."
The IRA has never admitted to any involvement in the theft of Shergar, and no arrests have been made in relation to the kidnapping, whilst both Kevin Mallon and Nicky Kehoe have denied playing any role in the incident. O'Callaghan's story had come under scrutiny, with many believing it a fabrication to sell his autobiography. Milton Toby, in his 2018 book, Taking Shergar: Thoroughbred Racing's Most Famous Cold Case, raises doubts over O'Callaghan's claims and stating the IRA informant was, "a confessed informer whose life depending on his ability to weave a convincing web of lies. Without more evidence, O'Callaghan's story... just that, an interesting story." The remains of Shergar have never been recovered, despite several claims of equine skeletons being that of the Thouroughbred. Several sources, including O'Callaghan and newspapers The Sunday Telegraph and The Observer, believe it is likely the body was buried near Aughnasheelin, near Ballinamore, County Leitrim. This location was described by O'Callaghan as farmland belonging to a veteran IRA member from the 1940's, and said it would be difficult to obtain permission to excavate the site, with Ballinamore being a town with strong republican loyalties. Despite the uncertainty over his fate, Shergar's legacy as a racing legend has endured, with the Shergar Cup inaugurated at Goodwood Racecourse in his honour, and a statue of the horse erected in the grounds of Gilltown Stud, one of the Aga Khan's Irish stud farms.

Written by Nucleus