Europe

Clares Rocket: '1m euro kidnapped greyhound' found

Clares Rocket Image copyright Imelda Grauer
Image caption Clares Rocket is considered to be a "superstar" in greyhound racing, and has already notched up just under 54,000 euros (£45,800) in prize money

The trainers of a kidnapped greyhound, believed to be worth up to 1m euros (£847,000) in stud fees, have said they are "delighted" the dog has been found.

Four men have been arrested after the greyhound, Clares Rocket, was found "safe and well" by Irish police.

The dog is believed to have been stolen from kennels run by the Holland family in Golden, County Tipperary, on Monday.

They said they were "very emotional" when they were reunited with the dog and he was "very glad to be home".

"His feet are a bit sore but he had been fed and had not dehydrated," the family added.

'Nightmare'

The greyhound is owned by the Limerick-based Full House Syndicate but is trained by Graham Holland and his family at Riverside Kennels in County Tipperary.

In a statement on their website, the family said: "The whole thing has been a nightmare for the team, and his owners.

"We were away in Belfast visiting our son Christopher and we assume the dog was taken in the early hours of Monday morning.

"Our other son Timmy found the dog missing and contacted us immediately."

The theft of the champion dog was widely reported in the Irish and UK press, sparking comparisons with the IRA kidnap of the Irish racehorse Shergar in 1983.

'Superstar dog'

At one stage, it was speculated that thieves might demand a ransom for the safe return of the dog.

Clares Rocket is considered to be a "superstar" in greyhound racing, according to pundit Ian Fortune.

"He's already captured under 54,000 euros (£45,800) in prize money and he's not even two-and-a-half years of age yet," Mr Fortune told the BBC's Good Morning Ulster programme.

"Purely just in terms of pace, determination, track craft - this is just a serious greyhound.

"He's a dog that seems to have everything. He has great early speed, flies down the back straight, stays strong. He's well bred."

The Racing Post said Clares Rocket is "regarded as one of the fastest - and best - greyhounds seen in years".

The Holland family said they were informed on Tuesday evening that four men had been arrested and that the dog was safe.

'Delighted'

"We picked Rocket up at about midnight and it was very emotional," the family added.

"He was very glad to be home and we were delighted to see him again. At one stage, naturally, we all feared the worst.

"Thank you to all our family, friends and followers who supported us during this time."

Detectives are questioning two men in Tipperary Garda (Irish police) station while the other two suspects are being interviewed at Clonmel Garda station.

A Garda spokesperson said the four men were detained on suspicion of the theft and possession of the stolen greyhound.

However, Clares Rocket has "found safe and well", police confirmed.