Sher­gar’s cham­pi­ons

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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.

IS THERE a ques­tion to which you have al­ways wanted to know the an­swer? Or do you know the an­swer to a ques­tion raised here? Send your ques­tions and ^san­swers to: Charles Legge, An­swers To Cor­re­spon­dents, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, Lon­don, W8 5TT. You can also fax them to 01952 780111 or you can email them to charles.legge@dai­ly­mail.co.uk. A se­lec­tion will be pub­lished but we are not able to en­ter

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