Tag Archives: news

A Look at the Night He Disappeared

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.

In honor of such a gripping tale, we have included an excerpt from Taking Shergar below, which tells of the beginning of the mystery that is the disappearance of one of the most beloved champions of horse racing.

The story broke early Wednesday morning.
Julian Lloyd, a livestock insurance underwriter for the John Marsh Syndicate at the time, was staying at the Keadeen Hotel in Newbridge. He had an 8:00 a.m. appointment that day to meet a veterinary surgeon from Sycamore Lodge Equine Hospital, a clinic located at The Curragh. The two were supposed to visit the Aga Khan’s Ballymany Stud, just a mile down the road and situated between the hotel and the racecourse, to talk about a possible increase in insurance premiums. The veterinarian arrived in a rush as Lloyd was walking out of the hotel.
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Shergar winning the Chester Vase by twelve lengths on May 5, 1981. (George Selwyn)

“We’re in good time, Joe,” Lloyd told his friend. “There’s no need to hurry.”

“Oh, no,” the vet said. “Shergar was taken in the night.”

“What?”

“He was taken.”
“You mean he’s dead, Joe?”

“No, you eejit, taken. Someone stole Shergar!”
“Oh my God!”
Lloyd tried to piece together the story of what happened to Shergar, but information was scarce and nothing he heard made any sense. The first reports were brief and confusing. An armed gang? Shergar missing? The stud groom kidnapped? Ransom? The Irish Republican Army?

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Shergar with jockey Walter Swinburn and lad Dickie McCabe before his 10-length victory in the Guardian Newspaper Classic Trial at Sandown Park on April 25, 1981. (Miralgo Publications Photo Archives/John Crofts photo)

Tuesday, February 8, one of the coldest days in Ireland that year, started like any other for James Fitzgerald. A quiet man in his fifties, Fitzgerald had worked for the Aga Khan’s family for his entire life, ever since 1945, when he was sixteen years old. Now he was the stud groom at Ballymany, a job his father had held before him, and one of the most valuable Thoroughbreds in the world was his responsibility. Fitzgerald took the job seriously, but never in his wildest dreams did he imagine being asked one day to put his life on the line for “his” horse.

Fitzgerald lived with his wife and children in a house a short walk from the four-stall stallion barn. The house was isolated, situated at the end of a narrow, tree-covered lane well off the road running between Newbridge and Kildare Town. Security at Ballymany consisted merely of a heavy wooden gate with a simple latch at the bottom of the lane. A sign for visitors read: “please close gate.
Around 8:40 in the evening, a man wearing a long coat and peaked cap, the way a Garda officer might dress on such a bitterly cold and rainy night, walked up to James Fitzgerald’s house and knocked on the front door. Fitzgerald, who had just returned from checking on Shergar one last time before turning in for the night, was upstairs and one of his sons, Bernard, went to the door. No one expected visitors at that time of night.
Hearing the knock at the door and then a commotion from the front of the house, Fitzgerald hurried downstairs. He found chaos, a scene that he could not immediately comprehend. Bernard lay pinned to the floor by a masked man and two other men in balaclavas were shouting, waving their hands, and pointing guns at his family.“We’ve come for Shergar,” one of the men said.
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UPK Names Leila W. Salisbury New Director

Leila_HeadshotWe are very pleased to announce that Leila W. Salisbury has been named our new press director, becoming only the fourth in the press’s seventy-three year history. Salisbury is the current director of the University Press of Mississippi (UPM), a position she has held since 2008. She will take over leadership of UPK on August 1.

While at UPM, Salisbury was responsible for strategic planning and the management of a $2.7 million scholarly publishing operation and a $3.8 million endowment. She also has been very involved with the Association of American University Presses (AAUP), an organization of nonprofit publishers whose members strive to advance scholarship through their publications. Currently a member of the association’s national board of directors, she has previously chaired and participated in a number of panels and workshops at both national and regional levels and served as the chair of the AAUP marketing committee.

This hire represents a homecoming for Salisbury. She grew up in Lexington and began her career in publishing as a student assistant at UPK when she was an undergraduate. She began working for the press full time in 1994, as the assistant to the director. After receiving an M.A. in English from the University of Kentucky in 1997, Salisbury moved to the marketing department, eventually becoming the department director as well as an acquisitions editor before leaving for UPM in 2008. “This is an exciting time to work at the University Press of Kentucky. Leila is an exceptional leader who possesses a rare combination of institutional knowledge and outside expertise,” said Amy Harris, UPK’s director of marketing and sales. “I anticipate that the press will reach new heights under her direction.”

“I look forward to Leila bringing her national academic publishing experience back to Kentucky,” said Terry Birdwhistell, dean of UK Libraries, which oversees UPK. Salisbury brings particular expertise to the position through her work with the Charleston Library Conference, where she has served as a speaker, panelist, and plenary session moderator. “I’m particularly eager to explore partnerships with the UK Libraries,” said Salisbury. “Engaging with exciting new research and fields of study from flagship programs at UK and our other state universities will be an important part of the Press’s work moving forward.”

Salisbury is looking forward to bringing this experience back to UPK. “At the core, my mission is to be a useful connector of people, programs, and institutions,” she said. “Kentucky has a wonderfully rich history and culture, and the possibilities for telling the state’s story and working in concert with cultural institutions and university programs seem endless.”

Welcome home, Leila!

Bernard LaFayette Speaks on Dr. King & Selma


In case you missed it, one of our authors was on CBS Evening News last night in honor of Martin Luther King Day. Bernard LaFayette, author of In Peace and Freedom: My Journey in Selma, who took the directorship of the Alabama Voter Registration Project in Selma at just the age of 22, appeared on CBS Evening News to discuss his experiences in Selma during that tumultuous period and the inspiration that was Dr. King. Check it out above!

“Their purpose was to silence Martin Luther King, his voice,” said Lafayette. “But we can hear it everywhere we go. And that’s what my life was devoted to and has been and is now.” – Bernard LaFayette

Press Play: Bourbon Desserts, The Air Force, and Remembering Emmett Till

This past Friday, August 29, the Wall Street Journal featured a review of Lynn Marie Hulsman’s Bourbon Desserts. Here’s a taste of what they had to say:

“Bourbon, compared with its older cousin, Scotch, has a hint of caramel sweetness to it, making it a natural flavoring agent for dessert. Ms. Hulsman’s recipes for cakes, cookies, custards, ice creams and other confections are not designed for the calorie-shy, but they may well enchant anyone with a sweet tooth and an interest in traditional and modern American cuisine. Her presentations are clear and concise, with short introductory paragraphs preceding her instructions.” —Wall Street Journal


For the past couple of weeks Robert M. Farley’s Grounded: The Case for Abolishing the United States Air Force has been stirring up some conversation in publications like Aviation Week and The Daily Beast as readers digest Farley’s thought-provoking book.

Farley himself has continued to contribute to that conversation writing recently in Real Clear Defense about the Air Force’s new strategic white paper:

“Addressed to ‘Airmen and Airpower Advocates,’ America’s Air Force: A Call to the Future sounds a lot of familiar notes. It hypes the concept of “strategic agility,” a worthy contribution, but ends up defining the service’s contribution in reactive terms.  A Call to the Future tackles procurement failures and speaks to the need for partnerships, but fails to contribute seriously to the most gripping procurement problem the Air Force currently faces – the F-35 – or to provide a framework for thinking about the failure of airpower partnerships in Iraq and Afghanistan.” —Real Clear Defense


Finally, Darryl Mace, author of In Remembrance of Emmett Till: Regional Stories and Media Responses to the Black Freedom Struggle, spoke with radio station WHYY to remember Emmett Till on the 59th anniversary of his murder. During their conversation, Mace compares the the media landscape when Till was killed with the one we face today:

It is a very different time. There is a desire for instant news. Everything is tweeted and everything is blogged. The 24-hour news cycle really makes people hungry to consume media… You can’t escape the media input now.

You can listen to Darryl Mace’s full interview on the subject matter at WHYY.

Tennis, Philosophy, and the Huffington Post

Tom Morris, a well known public philosopher who writes for the daily news site The Huffington Post, started a new series today in which he interviews other philosophers on their current work. The series started today with an interview of our own David Baggett, whose book Tennis and Philosophy: What the Racket Is All About can be found in stores now! Head on over to The Huffington Post to read more on Tom Morris and his interview with David Baggett, or jump below.

**Also, don’t forget to enter yourself in the giveaway by Friday afternoon to be eligible to win a copy of The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook!

$35.00

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