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Thread: On This Day In (Racing) History

  1. #21
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    On this day six years ago, dual Group 1 winner Society Rock was foaled.

    On htis day zero years ago, Frankel's brother was foaled. Songsheet will be amazed to hear the colt is "attractive in size and scope".

    He is a chestnut.
    Welsh and Proud.

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  3. #22
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    From the BBC site:

    Shergar: The day the wonder horse was stolen
    By Julian Bedford
    BBC World Service


    Exactly 30 years ago, kidnappers broke into the Ballymany Stud in the Republic of Ireland and stole the champion racehorse, Shergar. What happened to the animal remains a mystery.

    Shergar was the most famous, and most valuable, racehorse in the world. The big bay colt with a distinctive white blaze on its face had won the 1981 Derby by a record 10 lengths. He had followed that triumph with successes in the Irish Derby and the King George and stamped himself as one of the all-time greats.

    When he retired at the end of that season, racehorse owners paid a staggering £10m for shares in his services impregnating mares.

    But after just one year, fate intervened. Kidnappers armed with handguns broke into the Ballymany Stud - owned, like the horse, by the Aga Khan - and forced the head groom, James FitzGerald, to load Shergar into a trailer. FitzGerald and Shergar were then driven off in separate vehicles while FitzGerald's family were held at gunpoint to ensure silence.

    FitzGerald was given a code word to be used in negotiations over a ransom, driven around for three hours and then dumped by the side of the road.



    For unfathomable reasons, it would be a further five hours before the police were informed about the crime - two Irish cabinet ministers are reported to have been informed before the police. So eight hours had passed before the search for Shergar began - eight hours during which the 1981 Derby winner could have been driven miles to the north or the south or west.

    There had never been a crime like it - the Irish were, and still are, huge horse lovers.

    Police began a painstaking search, asking the public to check every stable and barn across the country, as speculation grew over who had been responsible for the abduction.

    Suspicion immediately fell on the IRA, then at the height of its powers, and forever in need of cash to buy arms for its paramilitaries. There was speculation in the media of an imminent ransom demand but it was to be more than 24 hours before any news came from the kidnappers.

    That Wednesday evening, a call came into the BBC newsroom in Belfast. An anonymous caller said negotiations would only be conducted with three horseracing journalists from London. The three had to be at the Europa hotel the following evening.

    Continue reading the main story

    Start Quote

    We are watching you from across the road”

    "IRA" negotiator
    The three men chosen to be the intermediaries were Lord Oaksey, a former amateur rider and the racing correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, Peter Campling, a tipster on the Sun, and Derek Thompson who, like Lord Oaksey, worked for ITV's racing team.

    Thompson says he got a call at three in the morning, asking if he was willing to go to Belfast. He checked with his bosses at Thames TV and was on board the plane that afternoon along with his two colleagues and a camera crew.

    He said the scene that greeted him at Belfast airport was incredible: "It was like being a film star. There were cameras all around." The news of a lead in the search for the equine superstar had spread. About 100 cameramen and journalists were in or outside the Europa Hotel as Thompson and his co-negotiators arrived.

    Thompson says he was trying to push his way through the press pack when a voice came from reception: "Mr Thompson, would you pick up the hotel phone?"


    Negotiator Derek Thompson tried to help police trace the kidnappers' calls
    At the other end of the line was a voice Thompson describes as "cold, chilling". It gave the agreed codeword - "Arkle", the name of a famous Irish steeplechaser - and then warned Thompson, "We are watching you from across the road."

    Thompson looked out the window and saw a row of dingy bars with darkened windows. This was Belfast at the height of the Troubles. Any optimism he had about his role had gone.

    He took down the instructions he was given - namely to lose the press pack and make his way to an isolated farm 30 miles from Belfast.

    The press were lost in true Hollywood style - a dash through the kitchens to a waiting car at the service entrance.

    But the journey was even more eventful.

    "We were lost," Thompson recalls, "totally lost. It was the middle of Troubles, we were miles outside Belfast, going up a single track road.

    Continue reading the main story
    Shergar


    Bred by the Aga Khan in County Kildare, Ireland
    Retired to stud for a record valuation of £10m
    Sired 35 foals in only season at stud
    Mickey Rourke starred in a film about the kidnapping
    "Suddenly, five guys in balaclavas and machine guns appear in front of us. We slam on the brakes and I think, hang on, these guys are just going to spray the car.

    "They've got us over not to negotiate the release of the Derby winner, but to kill us.

    "Then this guy comes round to my side and he motioned with his machine gun, wind the window down. So I did and I was sitting there, six inches away from a gun pointing straight at me held by a guy with two holes for his eyes and one for his mouth.

    "And he said to me: 'Are you Derek Thompson?' I looked at him and said, 'Yes.'"

    "And he said 'We're the police.' To which I replied: 'Thank God for that!'"

    The police ushered the group into the farmhouse, owned by a breeder and trainer of racehorses, Jeremy Maxwell. Over the course of the next eight hours Thompson took between 10 and 12 more phone calls, each beginning with a different password.

    Thompson was trying to keep his interlocutor on the phone for more than 90 seconds, the length of time required for the police to discover the caller's location. The voice knew what Thompson was doing and was putting down the phone after 80 seconds, 85 seconds, never any longer.

    Finally, at 01:00 in the morning, Thompson succeeded. A conversation lasted 95 seconds. He turned round to the policeman at his shoulder and said: "Did you get it? Where are they?" Only to be told, "I'm sorry Mr Thompson but the man who traces the calls went off-shift at midnight."

    Despite all the talking, they had never managed to get beyond the opening demands - the kidnappers wanted an initial payment of £40,000, while Thompson was asking for a picture of Shergar taken next to that day's newspaper.

    For the next six hours they heard nothing. Thompson and the police dozed fitfully. Finally at 06:55 on Thursday morning the phone rang one last time. The caller said just eight words: "The horse has had an accident. He's dead." He then hung up.

    Continue reading the main story
    Find out more

    Derek Thompson was speaking to Witness on the BBC World Service
    Witness airs daily and tells history through the eyes of people who were there
    Listen to the programme
    Browse the Witness archive
    The hunt for Shergar continued for weeks but to Thompson it was now a wild goose chase. The police even enlisted the service of two mediums. No-one has ever admitted the theft of Shergar. The body has never been found. The most valuable horse in the world disappeared without trace.

    Thompson is convinced he was speaking to the kidnappers. Details have subsequently emerged, which have only strengthened his conviction. A password that he had never revealed was included in a book written by an IRA supergrass, Sean O'Callaghan, who claimed the organisation had planned and committed the theft.

    Thompson, now a racing correspondent, believes the account outlined in that book, that IRA gunmen took the horse and within 36 hours had found themselves unable to control such a big, powerful stallion. There was an accident and the horse had to be destroyed.

    He also believes the kidnappers took Shergar to the south coast of Ireland and following the accident, dumped his body into the sea. He has no evidence to support that theory, but says it would at least explain the lack of a corpse.

    Derek Thompson was speaking to Witness on the BBC World Service. Listen to the programme via iPlayer or browse the Witness podcast archive.


    This Thommo gets everywhere
    Ah! but a man's reach should exceed his grasp......

  4. #23
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    Actually Shergar has had a terrible 2013 so far. First he was downgraded by international handicappers from 140 to 136 to accommodate Frankel’s all-high time ranking, then he turned up in countless burger jokes.

    This is a further Shergar article from The Mail

    Shergar's head with that silken white flash poked out of his box until Jim Fitzgerald patted him, whispered soothing words, and shut him away for the night. An infra-red light shone warmth on the back that had carried Walter Swinburn to a 10-length victory in the 1981 Derby.
    ‘You need a telescope to see the rest,’ Peter Bromley told radio listeners that warm afternoon at Epsom. And Swinburn still swears that Shergar had so much in reserve that the winning margin could have been twice as majestic.
    But on this night — 30 years ago to the day — the bronze letters spelling the champion’s name over the door were chilled by icy winds which carried hail across The Curragh, County Kildare, to the nearby Ballymany Stud. There Shergar spent his post-racing life as the world’s most profitable sire. He had ‘covered’ 35 paying customers in his first season, at £80,000 per mare, and the second was soon to begin.

    On Wednesday, February 8, 1983, having locked the box door, Fitzgerald, Shergar’s groom, walked to the house he shared with his wife Madge and their family. Jim had been a stable boy since he was 14. Aged 53, he was caring for an animal worth £10million even then.
    As the Fitzgeralds settled in for the night, snow fell and fog spread across the heart of Ireland’s tight-knit horse community. Nothing stirred. Such were the quiet beginnings to the night of the most remarkable racing tale ever told.
    At about 8.30pm, the stud’s unguarded gate opened. A Ford Granada pulling a horsebox, a van and another car came through. There was a knock at Fitzgerald’s house. His elder son Bernard was closest. As he opened the door, he saw a dark figure. Bernard turned to fetch his father and was stunned by a blow to his back. Jim hurried forward to be met by a pistol barrel pointing at his heart. The IRA.

    History: How the Daily Mail reported it
    ‘We’re here for Shergar,’ he was told, his blood turning as cold as the night. ‘We want £2m for him.’ Three kidnappers, all masked and armed, piled in. Four members of the gang waited outside. Jim was led at gunpoint into the stable yard. Under the threat of death, he helped entice Shergar into the raiders’ horsebox. His wife and children were held in the house. ‘Call the police and you all die,’ they were warned.
    The IRA took Jim away, driving him around the back roads of Kildare before releasing him on an empty road, shaking but alive.
    The Fitzgeralds now live just two miles from the Ballymany Stud in a modest end-of-terrace house. Jim is still in robust health and, when the weather allows, he walks up to the stud gates — now electrified, of course — to look out over the yard that holds so many memories.
    ‘I forget a lot of things these days but I never forget anything about the taking of the horse,’ he told Sportsmail this week. ‘It’s like it was yesterday. It was a dreadful thing. All the searching for him, the police hunts, everything and them asking me questions, I knew it would do no good. I knew those people would never be able to handle him. You could see they didn’t know what they were doing. He’d only last a few days with them before they killed him.
    ‘Only because I was there did he go into the horsebox. He would never have done that for them. But of course they made me bring him in and he trusted me and he walked in for me. I feel terrible about that.
    ‘When the kidnappers told me to get out of the car, I walked to the nearest village and rang my brother, Des, and asked him to come and collect me.
    ‘He never asked why or what I was doing in that village and, even when I was in the car with him, I never told him what had happened until he was dropping me at my door.
    ‘He said, “Jim, you better ring someone”. So I rang my manager (the Frenchman Ghislain Drion). Up until that point, I was frightened for my family because the kidnappers had left a gunman with them. When I got back, he was long gone.

    ‘My youngest, Gillian, was only coming up on six at the time and my (younger) boy Patrick was not yet eight. The effect it had on them must have been terrible. Imagine seeing men with guns come into the house and take your father away. We never talk about it at home but I think about it a lot.’
    Jim still has a framed picture of Shergar at the top of the stairs. Every night when he goes to bed he looks over fondly at the handsome horse. Now he takes the picture down and holds it in his lap. ‘Ah, he was a lovely animal, a noble horse and an intelligent one,’ says Jim, a big, simple, gentle man with a well-defined long face under his white hair. ‘He never gave us a day’s trouble when he was with us but with those IRA fellas, I’d say it was a different story.
    ‘He was the best horse I ever saw. One of the best days of my life was when he arrived here and we paraded him through the village and everyone came out and cheered. The saddest was when they took him. Then to learn what they did to him. It was a terrible, terrible business.’
    What precisely they did to him, as Jim puts it, is a riddle that has never been entirely solved.
    Word of the kidnapping spread cautiously from the Fitzgeralds to stable bosses to government ministers, so that by the time the police were informed it was eight hours after that fateful knock on the door.
    Soon Shergar and Jim were headline news all over the world. The local hotel was full of reporters, while the country’s roads were packed with horseboxes being driven to that day’s Goff racehorse sale. The IRA knew that would be the case.

    The bungling police investigation was headed by trilby-wearing Chief Superintendent James ‘Spud’ Murphy of the Kildare County Garda. ‘We have got a good description, but what we haven’t got is a clue,’ he once said. To further ridicule, he announced he was turning to diviners, clairvoyants and psychics.
    Rival theories about the kidnapping soon surfaced. The New Orleans mafia were cited by some. Colonel Gaddafi by others. Adding to the confusion, police in Dublin worked against police in County Kildare, refusing to share information.
    Amid this turmoil, the kidnappers began negotiating a ransom with the Aga Khan. Their intention: to raise money for arms.
    But the approach revealed an oversight by the IRA: the Aga Khan, the billionaire spiritual leader of 15 million Ismaili Muslims, no longer entirely owned the horse. He had syndicated Shergar for £10m and was now one of 35 co-owners. How, practically, could they all agree to pay up? That was leaving aside the dangerous precedent that would have been set by giving in to kidnappers.
    So the gang were left with a horse they could not handle (a vet who was supposed to help pulled out after his wife got wind of what was happening) and from which they now knew funds could not be raised.
    Two serious theories have emerged to explain what happened next. The first was contained in a book by Sean O’Callaghan, an IRA killer turned informer. He claimed Shergar soon became agitated, injured a leg and ‘was killed within days . . . even though the IRA kept up the pretence he was alive’.
    He made it sound almost like a mercy killing. But in a Sunday Telegraph investigation five years ago, an ‘impeccable’ IRA source said O’Callaghan was not privy to the details of Shergar’s final hours — and the truth was more gruesome.

    If this account is to be believed, the end came on the fourth night after the kidnapping and not because the horse was badly injured. The great Shergar, so gentle and calm, was machine-gunned to death in a stable by one of his IRA handlers. ‘The horse even slipped on its own blood,’ the source said. ‘There was a lot of cussing and swearing because the horse would not die. It was a very bloody death.’
    By that point, Kevin Mallon, the convicted murderer identified by O’Callaghan as the mastermind of the operation, was under surveillance. The Garda were swarming everywhere. So Mallon ordered the horse shot dead. An animal lover, of all things, Mallon now keeps and races greyhounds.
    The bloody shots were seemingly fired in County Leitrim, the bandit land across which arms were smuggled north in those grim days of the Troubles.
    Shergar’s body has never been found. But according to Sean Feeley, the Garda chief superintendent who took over the investigation into Shergar’s disappearance in 1995, an informant came forward to say the horse was buried in bog and woodland on the Leitrim/Longford border.
    Revealing the development for the first time, Feeley said: ‘The peace process was in full swing and it was in the spirit of those times that we were given this information. We investigated thoroughly. The informant said the horse was buried in an area where a lot of cattle were buried. We had no definite area. Our searches never came to anything, then the informant went to ground. I still believe that’s where he ended up.’
    Feeley thinks men like Martin McGuinness, now the deputy first minister of Northern Ireland but a former member of the IRA, should admit that the IRA captured Shergar 30 years ago today and say sorry for his ‘appalling death’. Not to mention reveal where the great horse is buried.


    ‘They should apologise,’ said Feeley. ‘It’s the very least they could do. You think when you see them there in the Dail (the Irish parliament) that they could hold up their hands and admit what they did. It was a dastardly thing. It was an appalling death.
    ‘They could tell us where he is buried and DNA tests could be done and then the owners could finally be paid out their insurance policy for him.’
    Stan Cosgrove, Shergar’s vet and a syndicate member, is now 86. Speaking a few days ago, he said: ‘It’s like talking about your mother who died 30 years ago. It’s too painful. I think they will find the grave in 50 years when all the people who took him are dead. Every time some bones are found, it’s Shergar. I’ve seen some of these skulls and they were only two-year-olds. I do not believe I will ever know where Shergar is buried.’
    Cosgrove has spent £80,000 trying to ascertain the whereabouts of his horse, partly because the Norwich Union insurance pay-out depended on proof, first, of the horse’s death and, secondly, of it occurring before the policy expired.
    The file into Shergar’s disappearance remains open.

    In the lobby of a London hotel, the jockey who rode this wonder horse to that unforgettable Derby success allows himself to smile. Walter Swinburn, now 51, happily recited all the old stories again.
    ‘People apologise for asking me about Shergar but I never get bored of talking about him,’ says Swinburn, who learned of Shergar’s death when the BBC World Service called him while he was away in Mumbai. He initially thought it was a hoax and phoned trainer Sir Michael Stoute for grim confirmation.
    ‘The IRA destroyed families’ lives, so what’s a horse to them?’ he added. ‘They saw the opportunity, they saw the money, they saw the headlines.
    ‘I was just very blessed to come along and ride Shergar. I was lucky to fall on top of a horse and not need to do anything to win.
    ‘I always say that the ending can never spoil the great memories.’
    Last edited by Diamond Geezer; 8th February 2013 at 6:58 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chroniclandlord View Post
    Barrow Line looked some prospect.
    Indeed he was.
    Full brother to Bobsline, he cost 14500 gns at Derby sales as a 3yo.
    because of shallow heels he remained unsound for up to 4 yrs until they made special shoes to take pressure off his tendons. sound from Nov 1985 to Feb 87 he was only once out of the money at Cheltenham 86.
    Boots Madden ride on him in Hennessey 87 finished him.

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    Feb 9th

    On this day in 2002, Copeland held off future champion hurdler Rooster Booster to win the Tote Gold Trophy at Newbury

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    Quote Originally Posted by edgt View Post
    Indeed he was.
    Full brother to Bobsline, he cost 14500 gns at Derby sales as a 3yo.
    because of shallow heels he remained unsound for up to 4 yrs until they made special shoes to take pressure off his tendons. sound from Nov 1985 to Feb 87 he was only once out of the money at Cheltenham 86.
    Boots Madden ride on him in Hennessey 87 finished him.
    Interesting egdt, I didn't know about the special shoes.

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    On 9th Feb 2008 Denman won the Aon and Master Minded won the Game Spirit, Pasco and Ornais also won in a Paul Nicholls four timer at Newbury.

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    On this day in 2002 Lady Cricket won the Game Spirit, her daughter Swing Bowler goes today in the Betfair Hurdle.

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    Feb 10th

    On this day in 1993, Peter Scudamore reached 100 winners for the eighth year in succession when Capability Brown won the Reynoldstown at Ascot.

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    Feb 11th

    Frankel's 5th birthday

    On this day in 1996 Imperial Call and Conor O’Dwyer won the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown, beating Master Oats.


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    Love the photo DG.
    1981 on this day Aldaniti reunited with Bob Champion easily won the Whitbread Trial Chase at Ascot. 14/1 if memory serves. The long road to Aintree was well and truly started...

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    Feb 12th

    On this day in 2000, 1-4 favourite Flagship Uberalles and JoeTizzard won the Mitsubishi Shogun Game Spirit Chase at Ascot

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    Feb 12 a big day for Irish Hennessy
    2006 Beef or Salmon defeats Hedgehunter
    2010 Kempes defeats Glencove Marina
    2012 Quel Esprit defeats Roberto Goldback

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    Feb 13

    On this day in 1994, Peter Beaumont's Jodami recorded the second of his three Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup victories at Leopardstown.

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    Feb 13 1988
    On this day Playschool ridden by P Nicholls won Vincent O Brien Gold Cup from Forgive N Forget.
    Carvills Hill won the Paddy Power Nov Hurdle by 15L from Mixed Blends at 4/6.
    On releasing CH to go down to start, his lad Nicky was surrounded by the other lads with runners in that race asking Nicky how good CH was, which Cheltenham race he was going for etc before the race even started!
    I never witnessed anything like it!

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    Feb 14

    On this day in 1981, Daring Run, ridden by Ted Walsh and trained by Peter McCreery, won the Erin Foods Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown.

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    I love this thread.

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    Feb 14 1987
    Vincent O Brien Gold Cup first run at Leopardstown.
    MVOB wanted to help increase race course attendances so he sponsored the first 3 mile level weight championship race run in Ireland ( 5 yo received 9 lbs)
    Forgive N Forget beat Very Promising and Barrow Line.

    DG was 81 the year of the Stewards Inquiry when Daring Run interfered with Ivan King ridden by Paddy Kiely ? Luke , you might know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by edgt View Post
    Feb 14 1987


    DG was 81 the year of the Stewards Inquiry when Daring Run interfered with Ivan King ridden by Paddy Kiely ? Luke , you might know.
    Don't recall that, I do remember Daring Run going on to win the Aintree Hurdle that year a feat he repeated the following year.

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    On this day in 2004 I relieved those charitable layers on Sporting Options of a long and very attractive green ribbon of integers thanks to Shooting Light winning the Aon Chase at a net 40.9/1

    My biggest ever take-out, and if memory serves it was shortly before Sporting Options headed for the hills, knapsacks stuffed with their depositors' ill-earnt

    Thankfully and needless to say my wedge was grabbed in the time it took to whisper a wistful-but-warm "my funny valentine"

    Shooting Light was owned by John Brown, then a top-dog at William Hill's, and while I'm not generally in the habit of paying much attention to 'inside information' in this case the fact that Hill's were alone at 16/1 early-doors from 33/1 generally did glare

    They 'knew' - for once

    On every other day in 2004 I gave it all back...
    Last edited by Drone; 14th February 2013 at 9:37 AM.

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