Members of a criminal drugs gang are suspected of being involved in the kidnap of the best racing greyhound in the country, who was taken from kennels of a leading trainer in Golden, Co Tipperary.

UPDATE: 'It's like winning the Derby again' declares trainer of kidnapped champion greyhound

Clares Rocket has been described as a wonder dog, having already won 14 races and €53,950 in prize money.

Greyhound sources said the animal is worthless to those now holding him, as he cannot race and his semen cannot be used for breeding, due to stringent traceability rules. One source said: “His value now is a ransom for his safe return to his owners.”

When he retires to stud, breeders estimate he could potentially earn up to €1m.

A well-placed source said: “He can’t be used for stud purposes as all semen can be traced. And he can’t race under another name, as he is chipped.

“So the only motive can be kidnapping. People are talking about Shergar. The big worry is this could end up like a scene from The Godfather when a top thoroughbred had his head cut off and placed in the owner’s bed.

“If he has been kidnapped and a ransom demanded, the fear is Clares Rocket could have a bad end. Those involved in taking the greyhound are serious people.

“A lot of detailed planning went into this: Knowing which greyhound to take when the kennels were raided in the dark of night. The people involved in taking this greyhound are sinister, no doubt.”

Clares Rocket has been installed as favourite for the Irish and English Derbys next year. He was born in June 2014. White and black in colour he was originally named Rackett Hall Ruler before being purchased by the Full House Syndicate, a group from Limerick headed by Joe Cahill. The dog was taken from the kennels of top trainer, Greg Holland, who moved to Co Tipperary from the UK.

Mr Holland is regarded as one of the best handlers of greyhounds in these islands.

A first crop of the sire, Confident Rankin, the missing greyhound is being acclaimed as one of the best track greyhounds to emerge for years. One source said: “He has done phenomenal times at Shelbourne Park and holds the track record at Clonmel. Money couldn’t buy him. He’s a wonder dog, a superstar.”


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