Rural Ireland under siege from thieves – trainer Jim Culloty
CHELTENHAM Gold Cup winning trainer, Jim Culloty, warned that rural Ireland is under siege after thieves stole more than €15,000 from his racing stables.
The thieves raided the Mount Corbitt racing yard outside Churchtown, Co Cork at exactly the same time as the three-time Cheltenham Gold Cup winning jockey was masterminding his first victory as trainer with Lord Windermere.
They fled with the trainer's 2007 Toyota Hilux 4x4 as well as assorted equipment, including generators, a chainsaw and tools.
A garda manhunt is now under way for the thieves, who escaped with over €15,000 in goods.
Mr Culloty warned that his story was no different to thousands of other householders and farmers around rural Ireland who have been targeted by "a plague of robberies and burglaries" over recent years.
"The number of thefts is definitely on the increase. The whole thing has gone beyond a joke. Something has to be done," he said.
"The whole thing is a scandal . . . I feel sorry for the gardai. The thieves don't give a damn because they know even if they are caught they will probably be treated leniently by the courts," he said.
Mr Culloty said the real tragedy was that thousands of rural dwellers now lived nightly in fear of their properties being targeted by criminal gangs.
The thieves did not attempt to break into Mr Culloty's two- storey farmhouse home located just 50m from his stables and storehouses.
The house has an elaborate alarm system to protect Mr Culloty's racing memorabilia and trophies, which now include four Cheltenham gold tankards.
Gardai suspect the thieves had mounted surveillance on Mount Corbitt, which has electronic security gates and CCTV security camera systems.
The trainer said he was not going to allow the thieves to spoil his Cheltenham celebrations.
"I got a call on Friday to tell me what had happened. But not for one second did it spoil winning the Gold Cup. No one was hurt so that is a bit of a relief. But the most disappointing thing is that the gardai seem to think the thieves had local knowledge.
The thieves fled through a rear gate to the property – and were so well prepared they had taken it off its hinges rather than make noise by attempting to smash its padlock.
The trainer and his jockeys, Davey Russell and Robbie McNamara, arrived home to a heroes' welcome in Churchtown last Sunday from the legendary Cotswolds venue.
"They obviously saw myself and my wife and children were over there in Cheltenham and decided to strike," he added.
Mr Culloty and Davy Russell proudly displayed five Cheltenham gold tankards in the stable yard – two from Lord Windermere and three from Mr Culloty's triple Gold Cup triumphs with Best Mate as a jockey.
Mr Culloty is now one of only four men to have recorded success in the Cheltenham Gold Cup as both a winning jockey and trainer.