Shergar the horse being led by a man in a blue suit, white shirt and blue tie on a race track. The man has a handle bar moustache

The mysterious tale of Shergar (narrated by Vanilla Ice) and three other horse-related True Crime stories

It was the crime that baffled a nation – and, more than 30 years on, remains unsolved. On February 8, 1983, Shergar, the five-year-old stallion whose short but prodigious racing career had propelled him into the Irish history books, was kidnapped from the stud farm he had retired to two years previously and held to a ransom that ran into the millions.

According to head groom Jim Fitzgerald, who lived at Ballymany stud, it was 8.30pm on a foggy evening when his son Bernard answered a knock at the door. Three masked, armed men burst into the room, announcing that they were there for Shergar – and they wanted “£2m for him”.

What followed grabbed headlines around the world, caused multiple wild goose chases and sparked dozens of theories, none of which led to Shergar’s discovery.

Three decades on, American rapper Vanilla Ice has revisited the kidnapping in the BBC’s Sport’s Strangest Crime series. Listen to part one of the seven-part series here.  

Incredibly, though, Shergar’s isn’t the only horse-related True Crime story.

Scamfluencers – The Quarter Horse Queen

This episode of Wondery’s Scamfluencers series follows the story of Rita Crundwell, who dreams of raising championship horses. Unfortunately for Rita, her day job is much less glamorous: She works in finance for her small city in the US state of Illinois.

Though Rita saves up her paychecks to compete in horse shows, it never seems to be enough to get ahead. Which is when, according to the podcast, “she decides to pull off a colossal fraud that will fund her extravagant lifestyle – and completely bankrupt the city that employs her.

“When it all unravels, it’ll turn out to be the biggest case of municipal embezzlement in U.S. history.”

Skip straight to this episode here, or follow Scamfluencers on the LiSTNR app.

Crime Writers On… True Crime Review – The Trojan Horse Affair

A podcast about a podcast – and not necessarily about an actual horse – but absolutely worth the listen regardless. The Trojan Horse Affair, a series from Serial Productions and The New York Times, investigates the emergence of a 2014 letter that detailed an elaborate plot by Islamic extremists to infiltrate schools in Birmingham, England. The incident became known as The Trojan Horse Affair and, in this review episode from Crime Writers On, you’ll get a Cliff Notes version of the series itself and/ or a spoiler-free review so you can decide whether or not you’re going to dig in.

You can hear the full episode here (and skip to the 42 minute mark for the spoiler-free review).

Tenfold More Wicked – Melissa del Bosque: Bloodlines

Host Kate Winkler Dawson talks to author Melissa del Bosque about her investigation into one of Mexico’s deadliest drug cartels, and how it infiltrated American horseracing. Del Bosque’s book is the culmination of three years of research into the story of FBI rookie Scott Lawson and fellow agent Alma Perez as they attempt to dismantle “a cartel leader’s American racing dynasty”.

Listen now on the LiSTNR app, or by clicking here.

Delve into more episodes like these by downloading the free LiSTNR app, the home of crime podcasts.