Taking Shergar: Thoroughbred Racing's Most Famous Cold Case

Taking Shergar: Thoroughbred Racing's Most Famous Cold Case

by Milton C. Toby


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It was a cold and foggy February night in 1983 when a group of armed thieves crept onto Ballymany Stud, near The Curragh in County Kildare, Ireland, to steal Shergar, one of the Thoroughbred industry's most renowned stallions. Bred and raced by the Aga Khan IV and trained in England by Sir Michael Stoute, Shergar achieved international prominence in 1981 when he won the 202nd Epsom Derby by ten lengths — the longest winning margin in the race's history. The thieves demanded a hefty ransom for the safe return of one of the most valuable Thoroughbreds in the world, but the ransom was never paid and Shergar's remains have never been found.

In Taking Shergar: Thoroughbred Racing's Most Famous Cold Case, Milton C. Toby presents an engaging narrative that is as thrilling as any mystery novel. The book provides new analysis of the body of evidence related to the stallion's disappearance, delves into the conspiracy theories that surround the inconclusive investigation, and presents a profile of the man who might be the last person able to help solve part of the mystery.

Toby examines the extensive cast of suspects and their alleged motives, including the Irish Republican Army and their need for new weapons, a French bloodstock agent who died in Central Kentucky, and even the Libyan dictator, Muammar al-Qadhafi. This riveting account of the most notorious unsolved crime in the history of horse racing will captivate serious racing fans and aficionados as well as entertain a new generation of horse racing enthusiasts.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813176239
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Publication date: 10/19/2018
Series: Horses in History
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 962,970
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Milton C. Toby is an award-winning author, journalist, and attorney with more than forty years of experience researching and writing about Thoroughbred racing and equine law. He is the author of eight books, including Dancer's Image: The Forgotten Story of the 1968 Kentucky Derby and Noor: A Champion Thoroughbred's Unlikely Journey from California to Kentucky.

Table of Contents

Author's Note vii

Introduction: Missing 1

1 Birth of an Empire 5

2 Families 20

3 Black Swans 33

4 Assassination 42

5 Shergar Ascendant 50

6 "You need a telescope to see the rest" 61

7 Guns and Money 76

8 A "Rough Patch" for the Garda 86

9 The Man in the Trilby 105

10 "Rugby" and the Captain 112

11 The Insurance Game 122

12 The Usual Suspects 134

13 The French Connections 140

14 The Pathologist and the Skull 152

15 The Stallion Probes 157

Epilogue 173

Acknowledgments 187

Appendix 1 Shergar's Pedigree 193

Appendix 2 Shergar's 1980-1981 Racing Record 197

Appendix 3 The Shergar Syndicate 201

Notes 213

Bibliography 245

Index 249

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Diligently researched, and written with the rhythm of a good mystery novel, Taking Shergar takes readers to the 1980s boom times of the international Thoroughbred industry. By introducing his audience to a colorful cast of historical figures, and shedding light on a truly remarkable incident, Toby has made an important contribution to horseracing's historical tapestry." — James C. Nicholson, author of The Notorious John Morrissey: How a Bare-Knuckle Brawler Became a Congressman and Founded Saratoga Race Course and The Kentucky Derby: How the Run for the Roses Became America's Premier Sporting Event

"Relentlessly and meticulously researched by an award-winning master of his craft, Taking Shergar is a tour de force of investigative reporting and a hard-to-put-down account of the day the world of Thoroughbred racing stopped in its tracks." — Mary Simon, three-time recipient of the Eclipse Award

"The exhaustive exercise Toby undertook and describes in Taking Shergar delves into many layers of intrigue, possibility, and probability. Shergar's story hinges on so many disparate factors — the Irish Republican Army's appetite for violence, the Aga Khan IV's position as the breeder and original owner of the Epsom Derby winner, questionable police work, seers' attempts to locate the horse, and the profit-making instincts of the insurance industry — which are addressed in voluminous but colorful detail." — Edward L. Bowen, former editor-in-chief of The Blood-Horse and author of twenty books on Thoroughbred racing

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