Photo by Richie Smith Photography
The Curragh Racecourse is situated on the plains and is Ireland’s Premier Flat Racecourse. It hosts all five classic races in the racing calendar: the Irish Derby Stakes, the Irish Oaks, the Irish 1,000 Guineas, the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the St. Leger. These races are held annually, during which Iarnród Éireann trains stop at a seasonal station near the track.
For a complete listing of all events and race meetings please click this link.
Famous Kidnapping on The Curragh
Walter Swinburn and Shergar after winning the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes
Shergar (born 1978. Sire: Great Nephew, Dam: Sharmeen) was an acclaimed racehorse, and winner of the 1981 Epsom Derby by a record 10 lengths, the longest winning margin in the race’s 226-year history. This victory earned him a spot in The Observer newspaper’s 100 Most Memorable Sporting Moments of the Twentieth Century. A bay colt with a distinctive white blaze, Shergar was named European Horse of the Year in 1981 and was retired from racing that September. Two years later, on 8 February 1983, he was stolen from the Ballymany Stud, near The Curragh by masked gunmen with the body never being discovered. The incident has been the inspiration for several books, documentaries, and a film. What happened next set the tone for a police operation that has been called “a caricature of police bungling”.
James Fitzgerald called the stud farm manager, who called Shergar’s vet, Cosgrove. The vet then called a racing associate, Sean Berry, who in turn called Alan Dukes, the Irish Finance Minister. Not until eight hours had elapsed did anyone call the Gardaí. Their immediate investigation was not helped by a smart piece of planning by the gang, which had selected the same day as the biggest horse sales in the country, when horseboxes had passed along every road in Ireland. Leading the investigation into the theft was trilby-wearing Chief Superintendent Jim “Spud” Murphy, who became a media hero. His detection techniques were unconventional and a variety of clairvoyants, psychics and diviners were called in to help. The strongest suspect for the theft is the Provisional Irish Republican Army, whose motive was to raise money for arms. This theory was further supported by Sean O’Callaghan, the IRA supergrass in his book The Informer. He claims that the whole scheme was masterminded by Kevin Mallon and when Shergar panicked, so did the team. He also claimed that Shergar was probably shot within hours of being snatched. (Sourced from Wikipedia)