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.
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