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New book offers detailed account of mysterious unsolved theft of famous thoroughbred Shergar

In 1981, Shergar won the Epsom Derby by ten lengths — the longest margin in the race’s history. After winning a total of six races, his owner, the Aga Khan IV, chose to syndicate Shergar at Ballymany Stud in Ireland for £10 million, a substantially lower sum than if he had syndicated in the United States. Two years later, just as his second stud season was about to begin, Shergar was stolen from the Ballymany Stud, in County Kildare. The thieves demanded £2 million, what they deemed a reasonable sum given his syndication. The ransom, however, was never paid, the trail was already cold after a lengthy delay in notifying the police, and Shergar was never found. The case, despite speculations from many, remains unsolved.

In Taking Shergar: Thoroughbred Racing’s Most Famous Cold Case, Milton C. Toby presents the most complete account yet of Shergar’s theft. With a story as compelling as any mystery novel, Toby utilizes a vast body of evidence, much of it published for the first time, to explore the many facets of the case. While covering a vast array of topics from the numerous conspiracy theories that surround the investigation to a profile of possibly the last person who might be able to help solve part of the mystery, Toby discusses economic and political factors that provide crucial historical context for this story. Toby has more than forty years of writing and legal experience in the field of Thoroughbred racing and puts these skills to use in his riveting account of this thirty-five-year-old cold case.

Taking Shergar contains a wealth of information that has not previously been considered in the case, most notably the involvement of the Mobius Group, a parapsychology research organization hired to assist with the search for Shergar. Toby includes the most authoritative statement yet from a retired officer of An Garda Síochána (the Irish national police) regarding the possible death of Shergar in the immediate days after the theft. Other newly exposed information, including a report that was previously only available to shareholders in the breeding syndicate that owned Shergar, allows Toby to shed new light on this crime. He debunks a number of prominent conspiracy theories while also exploring fully, for the first time, the large body of circumstantial evidence which ties the IRA to the theft.

Toby also provides historical context and analysis not found in any previous works on Shergar. As he examines the possible involvement of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), Toby delves into the political and economic climate that led to Shergar’s theft. Beginning in the 1960s and lasting until the late 1990s, IRA violence plagued Northern Ireland, with skirmishes between British military and the IRA leading to over 3,500 deaths. As expenses grew rapidly, a number of high-profile kidnappings were attempted to raise money for weapons. The theory that the theft of Shergar was masterminded by the cash-strapped IRA is one of the most popular and convincing. Other suspects explored by Toby include a French bloodstock agent who died in Central Kentucky and Muammar al-Qadhafi, the Libyan dictator.

Taking Shergar, the first title in the new series, Horses in History, examines this oft-discussed mystery in a new way. From revolutionaries to royalty, Toby covers the full story of Shergar’s theft. Using new evidence and a broad scope of analysis, Toby breathes new life into Thoroughbred racing’s most notorious cold case. Even as the case remains unsolved, Taking Shergar offers a new look at this over thirty-year-old mystery. Though the case may forever remain unsolved, Toby has contributed greatly to the historical tapestry of the sport of kings.

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.

From University Press of Kentucky

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