Vanilla Ice: ‘No story compares to the Shergar story’

Former rapper narrates new BBC podcast about the racehorse’s disappearance

Shergar was stolen from Ballymany Stud in Co Kildare on the night of February 9th, 1983. File photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Shergar was stolen from Ballymany Stud in Co Kildare on the night of February 9th, 1983. File photograph: Matt Kavanagh

 

Former rapper Vanilla Ice has described the story of the disappearance of Irish racehorse Shergar as the “most amazing story ever”.

Shergar won the Epsom Derby by 10 lengths, the Irish Derby and three other races in a dazzling career as a three-year-old in 1981.

He was retired to Ballymany Stud in Co Kildare where he was stolen from on the night of February 9th, 1983.

His remains were never recovered.

Vanilla Ice, who had a hit in the 1990s with the song Ice Ice Baby, is the narrator of a seven-part BBC podcast called Sport’s Strangest Crimes about the Shergar disappearance.

“There are more theories about his disappearance than there are foals that he sired,” the series states.

Vanilla Ice, whose real name is Rob van Winkle, said he has always loved movies about racehorses and there is “no story that compares to the Shergar story”.

“It is so deep,” he said. “The minute you start absorbing what really happened, it sounds like something that could be made in Hollywood.”

Vanilla Ice told RTÉ presenter Brendan O’Connor that only a director like Steven Spielberg would be worthy of the story.

In a documentary published three years ago, Kieran Conway, who was an intelligence officer at the time, said although the IRA had never publicly acknowledged it was behind the kidnapping of the horse, “clearly it was. I didn’t personally meet anybody who objected to us kidnapping a horse.”

June 3rd, 1981: English jockey Walter Swinburn (19) on Shergar, after winning the Derby at Epsom. File photograph: Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty
June 3rd, 1981: English jockey Walter Swinburn (19) on Shergar, after winning the Derby at Epsom. File photograph: Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty

The mystery of the disappearance of what was then the most valuable racehorse in the world is the subject of a previous BBC documentary Searching for Shergar by presenter Alison Millar broadcast in 2018.

Her documentary reiterates the view first advanced by former IRA informer Sean O’Callaghan that Shergar was shot because his kidnappers could not control a thoroughbred racehorse.

O’Callaghan alleged that Shergar is buried on the land of an IRA veteran from the 1940s in Aughnasheelin, Co Leitrim.

Vanilla Ice said it was “50:50” as to whether or not Shergar would ever be found.

In the BBC podcast series, Shergar’s jockey Walter Swinburn, who was just 19 when he rode him to victory in the Epsom Derby, described the horse as a “nice person”.

“It always makes me smile that people remember him and don’t have a clue who I am,” he said.

“He lived out in the paddock. Anyone could go up to him. He was like a pet there. He wasn’t your typical stallion – difficult to deal with – and I suppose that was part of his downfall.

“Anyone could go in there, put a bridle on him and lead him out.”