Churchill Downs, who finished third to Miss Finland in the 2006 Golden Slipper, was among six stallions and 12 in-foal mares taken at gunpoint during a bloody 14-hour ordeal on Saturday evening from the nation’s premier thoroughbred farm, Al Shaab Stud.
Churchill Downs, who finished third to Miss Finland in the 2006 Golden Slipper, was among six stallions and 12 in-foal mares taken at gunpoint during a bloody 14-hour ordeal on Saturday evening from the nation’s premier thoroughbred farm, Al Shaab Stud.

Terrorists steal valuable stallion in bloody raid

A PRIZED horse bred by John Singleton who went on to become a Magic Millions sale topper was stolen in a bloody raid by armed terrorists in Libya at the weekend.

Churchill Downs, who finished third to Miss Finland in the 2006 Golden Slipper, was among six stallions and 12 in-foal mares taken at gunpoint during a bloody 14-hour ordeal on Saturday evening from the nation's premier thoroughbred farm, Al Shaab Stud.

Grave fears are held for the son of Danehill, whose adopted home has been caught in the middle of an increasingly violent civil conflict in Libya for months.

Churchill Downs was born and bred in Australia before being sent to Libya in 2012.
Churchill Downs was born and bred in Australia before being sent to Libya in 2012.

Churchill Downs was exported to the Middle East in 2012 to help build up Libya's fledgling breeding stocks, having previously stood at stud in Victoria.

Five other stallions were also stolen from Al Shaab Stud including Brut Force, a son of 1999 Melbourne Cup runner-up Champagne, Backdraft, the former Gai Waterhouse-trained son of Testa Rossa, and Eavesdropper, who stood at Emirates Park Stud in the upper Hunter Valley.

"At six o'clock (Saturday), an armed group came from the Tarhuna city militia loyal to Haftar,'' Al Shaab Stud owner Dr Amad Ashaab told The Daily Telegraph via email.

"They broke into the stable and stole all the veterinary devices, furniture, offices, generator, jars and water pumps.

"They stole the 12 in-foal mares that are about to give birth this January and February. Then they entered the stallion of stallions and stole 6 stallions: Churchill Downs, Brut Force, Backdraft, Eavesdropper, Raise A Grand and Metternich."

John Singleton (right) with Gerry Harvey at Royal Randwick. Picture: Chris Pavlich
John Singleton (right) with Gerry Harvey at Royal Randwick. Picture: Chris Pavlich

Dr Ashaab founded Al Shaab Stud and has been the driving force behind efforts to build and maintain a thriving thoroughbred industry in Libya.

He regularly attended sales on the Gold Coast to acquire horses to take back to his farm near Tripoli.

He has pleaded for international help to rescue the prized thoroughbreds.

"They shot two horses and were wounded in the hind legs so that no one could provide the ambulance to help the horse with euthanasia," Dr Ashaab said.

"We appeal to all humanitarian organisations and all horse organisations to save the horses of Libya."

Churchill Downs with David Hayes’ former stable forewoman Lizzie Jelfs.
Churchill Downs with David Hayes’ former stable forewoman Lizzie Jelfs.

Singleton sold Churchill Downs at the 2005 Magic Millions Yearling Sale on the Gold Coast fetching top price of $950,000.

Trained by David Hayes, Churchill Downs finished second in the Magic Millions 2YO Classic and third in the Golden Slipper with Darren Beadman in the saddle.

Churchill Downs' kidnapping has evoked memories of British champion Shergar, who was believed to have been kidnapped by the IRA in 1983.

His owner, the Aga Khan's stud farm in Ireland, was sent a 2 million pound ransom demand but, after four days of negotiations, talks abruptly ended and the horse was never seen again.

Shergar's body was never found.

News Corp Australia

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