A gang that stole a greyhound worth an estimated €1m is being hunted by gardai.
Officers are carrying out a full investigation into the theft of Clares Rocket, stolen on Monday night from the kennels of Irish Derby-winning trainer Graham Holland.
The dog is owned by the Limerick Full House syndicate, headed by Joe Cahill and has been trained by Mr Holland, who owns family-run business Riverside Kennels in Golden, Co Tipperary.
An organised crime gang is suspected of being behind the theft. Last night, a source said an exact motive had not yet been established.
"There have been no ransom demands yet, this is a highly unusual crime," the source said.
Valuable Clares Rocket is listed as the second favourite at odds of 25/1 for next year's English Derby, one of the most prestigious greyhound races.
Yesterday, a spokesman at bookmaker Paddy Power told the Herald that any bets placed on Clares Rocket would be refunded if the dog did not run in the race. Just €1,000 has been placed on him to date.
Clares Rocket is a previous winner of the Champion Stakes and the valuable Produce Stakes and was a favourite this year for the Con and Annie Kirby Memorial Puppy Stake.
Earlier this year, the dog won the Doire Construction Champion Stakes semi-final by seven lengths. That victory was described as "an annihilation of some of the best greyhounds on either side of the Irish Sea".
This week's theft of the greyhound has drawn comparisons with the famous Shergar case from 1983.
The Aga Khan-owned Shergar horse was taken at gunpoint by the IRA from Ballymany Stud in Co Kildare but was never recovered.
The Provisional IRA has been long suspected of involvement in the theft of Shergar and sources said that dissident Republicans have not been ruled out in the investigation into the greyhound theft.
"A number of criminal groupings could be responsible for this including dissident Republicans and crime groupings from Limerick," a source said.