Greyhound rescued from kidnappers by mob boss is favourite for English Derby
THE greyhound rescued from kidnappers by a mob boss is living up to its €1million price tag as the countdown starts to the English Derby.
Clares Rocket had already made headlines as one of fastest dogs in decades when he was snatched from his Tipperary kennel last year.
The dog, already tipped as favourite for the English Derby, was handed back after Limerick crime boss and dog-lover Christy Keane intervened.
This month the greyhound has been racing in Towcester in the U.K., where the Derby heats began this week.
In two trial races Clares Rocket set some excellent times and remains the bookies’ favourite at 10/1, for the race that will be run next month.
Trainer Nicky Holland explained that the dog has been in the U.K. for the last two weeks and so far is just getting used to the track.
“He’s lucky to be alive so whatever he does is a bonus,” she told the Sunday World this week.
“It’s a tricky track, he just needs to get used to the trapping – the hare starts quite close to the boxes compared to what he’s used to in Ireland,” she added.
“He’s had two races, beaten in both races, but to be honest they were his first races since November.
“He’s been across there two weeks now with Graham [Holland]. Fingers crossed it’s all about qualifying, getting a lucky draw,” said Nicky.
Clares Rocket has made a full recovery since he was taken from the property of trainers Graham and Nicky at Golden, Tipperary.
At that stage the dog had won €59,000 in prize money and was regarded as one of the fastest dogs currently racing and a serious contender for the coveted English Derby title.
There were reports that Clares Rocket could even be worth as much as €1m in stud fees.
A member of a dissident republican faction from the south-east demanded a €100,000 ransom to get the dog returned safely, according to our sources.
The head of the consortium which owns the dog, Joe Cahill from Limerick, received two calls from the ‘dognappers’ demanding the payout.
Another member of the consortium then asked Christy Keane if he could use his contacts to find out who had snatched the dog, in a desperate bid to get it back unharmed.
Three days after the abduction Clares Rocket was handed back, after Keane had spoken directly to the suspected dognappers.
One member of the consortium previously told the Sunday World that they did a deal when the dognappers realised they were in over their heads.
“The dog would come back, there’d be no ransom but they didn’t want any more trouble,” he said at the time.