QUESTION Did Shergar sire any foals before he was kidnapped? If so, did any go on to be winners? In June 1981, the Aga Khan’s whitefaced colt Shergar lit up the racing world when he romped up the epsom straight to win the 202nd Derby by ten lengths, the longest winning margin in the race’s history.
On February 8, 1983, he was snatched by masked gunmen from the Ballymany Stud, near newbridge in Co. Kildare.
The near complete lack of evidence as to his fate left the door open to a range of theories and conspiracies.
Most suspected he was taken by the IRA for ransom, others pointed to Colonel Gaddafi, the new Orleans mafia or a vengeful bloodstock dealer wronged by the Aga Khan.
Back in September 1981, a disappointing run at Doncaster’s St Leger, where Shergar was beaten by Cut Above, saw the horse syndicated for stud duties.
In October 1981, the stallion arrived in newbridge to great celebration as it had been thought he would be dispatched to the u.S. He was greeted in the town by a brass band and the cheers of schoolchildren waving flags in the Aga Khan’s green and red racing colours.
Shergar produced 35 foals from his single season at stud, though only one had been born by the time of his kidnap.
Of his offspring, 28 raced, producing 15 winners and another six placed performers. Class act: Shergar at Ascot in 1981 The most famous was the stallion Authaal, who did what his father could not by winning the 1986 St Leger in fine style.
After failing to reproduce his best form in 1987, he was sent to Australia, where he recorded major wins in the Group 1 Queen elizabeth Stakes and underwood Stakes.
After retiring from racing, he stood as a breeding stallion in Japan, but had little success in siring winners, and died after a few seasons.
Shergar’s other champions included the fillies Maysoon, Tashtiya and Dolka, plus the colt Tisn’t.
With almost 18 per cent winners-tostarters, Shergar’s one small crop produced exceptional figures, suggesting he could have developed into one of the best international sires of his time.
Al Kennedy, Uttoxeter, Staffs.
QUESTION Is the Strait of Dover still the busiest waterway in the world?
THE Strait of Dover separates the english Channel and north Sea. Across it, the shortest distance is 20.7 miles, from the South Foreland to Cap Gris nez, near Calais. It’s estimated that the Strait sees the passage of 400 ships a day. These are not only cargo-carrying ships, but also rollon, roll-off car ferries. Cargoes include oil from the Middle east to european ports, and various commodities from north and South America to european customers.
The strait is considered to be the world’s busiest international seaway.
The Strait of Malacca, the narrow, 550mile stretch of water between the Malay Peninsula, is one of the world’s most congested shipping choke points because it narrows to just 1.5 nautical miles at the Phillips Channel (close to Singapore). This limits the amount of traffic.
In 2014, the StrasseLink marine consultancy calculated 80,055 vessels travelled through it in 2014. That’s 220 per day, less than the Dover Strait, but it feels more congested because it’s so narrow.
Brian Allen, Mold, Flintshire.
QUESTION What is the story of the World War I pilot Rutland of Jutland?
CONTRARY to the claim that Lt Frederick Rutland and Assistant Paymaster G. S. Trewin were the first to fly a reconnaissance mission over an enemy fleet, this honour goes to the Greek navy.
On February 5, 1913, Lt Michael Moutoussis and ensign Aristeidis Moraitinis flew the Maurice Farman seaplane nautilus over the Turkish naval base of nagara in the Sea of Marmara.
After observing the enemy warships, they dropped four small bombs — the first air attack upon warships.
This event took place in the First Balkan War of 1912-13, during which the Greek Delfin made the first modern submarine attack upon the Turkish man- of-war Medjideh on november 20, 1912.
E. R. Hooton, Slough, Berks.
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