Greyhound Clares Rocket home and dry after theft

‘Everybody thought, like we did, that we’d never see the dog again, a bit like Shergar’

Greyhound trainer Graham Holland at his home in Golden, Co Tipperary after getting Clares Rocket back. Photograph: Liam Burke/Press 22

Greyhound trainer Graham Holland at his home in Golden, Co Tipperary after getting Clares Rocket back. Photograph: Liam Burke/Press 22

 

The trainer of champion greyhound Clares Rocket, which was kidnapped from kennels in Golden, Co Tipperary last Sunday night and held for a ransom, has welcomed the dog’s release without any money being paid.

“It’s like winning the Derby again”, Graham Holland said, after gardaí intercepted a car and recovered the dog on Tuesday evening.

Limerick criminal figure Christy Keane was one of four men arrested in connection with the greyhound’s kidnapping. A well-known dissident republican is also being questioned by detectives.

Mr Holland said he received a call from gardaí telling him the dog was alive and well.

Lots of tears

“We brought Rocket home, gave him a good feed, and pampered him. There was lots of tears. I know they broke into the kennels, but it’s like they broke into our privacy. You work with these dogs seven days a week and they become members of the family, and it feels like somebody has been taken from you.”

Mr Holland went to Tipperary town Garda station just after midnight on Tuesday to collect the dog and bring it home.

“To be really honest about it, we didn’t think we were going to see him again. The feeling was, once it hit national news, that the people who took him would panic and probably destroy the dog and disappear. That was my feeling. Luckily enough the gardaí did a fantastic job, and we are very lucky to have the dog back.”

Gardaí intercepted a car travelling from Waterford to Limerick late on Tuesday and recovered the dog. Four men were arrested in two operations and taken to Garda stations in Tipperary town and Clonmel.

The gang behind the kidnapping had demanded a ransom but no money was handed over, Mr Holland said.

“I think everybody thought, like we did, that we’d never see the dog again, a bit like Shergar. To have a fairlytale ending to a sad thing is unusual. For once there’s a good ending.

“He will race again, he’s in good enough condition, they didn’t badly treat him. They obviously fed him and let him have water, he wasn’t dehydrated.”

Joe Cahill, who heads the Full House syndicate which owns the greyhound, also travelled from his home in Limerick to Tipperary Garda station on Tuesday night to be reunited with the dog.

Mr Holland said he would be increasing security at his home and kennels in Golden.