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Retired firefighter remembers the day he saved Derby winner Shergar after the £10million colt got loose on Newmarket Heath




A firefighter, who has retired after a career spanning nearly half a century, has recalled the day he caught Derby winner, Shergar, after the colt got loose on Newmarket Heath 40 years ago.

Sixty-four-year-old Andrew Sheldrick was driving to work at Bury St Edmunds fire station in June 1981 when he was caught up in an incident which would make national headlines.

“A horse ran right out in front of me near the Boy’s Grave,” said Andrew. “I had to do an emergency stop and nearly hit him. I thought I better try and get hold of him otherwise there will be an accident, so, as he trotted off up the road towards Moulton, I drove very slowly after him.

Retired firefighter Andrew Sheldrick who remembered the day Derby winner Shergar ran out in front of his car
Retired firefighter Andrew Sheldrick who remembered the day Derby winner Shergar ran out in front of his car

“He seemed very calm and after a while he stopped to have a munch on a bush. I pulled up, got out of my car, and grabbed his reins. Then I thought I’ve got hold of a horse, now what am I going to do with it ?

“He had a saddle and bridle on so I led along the road until I came to some stables, which I later learned was Warren Place, belonging to Henry Cecil. I was met by a woman and I asked her ‘Can you look after this horse?’ "

Andrew then carried on to work where he later received a call from the police. “The officer thanked me for my actions and said: ‘Did you know you have just caught Shergar, the Derby winner?’ After that the phones were red hot with newspapers and television asking for interviews which I declined,” said Andrew. “I was asked if I would mind going to meet Michael Stoute, Shergar’s trainer, which I did, and he thanked me and gave me a little reward and a few days later I got a lovely letter from Shergar’s owner breeder, the Aga Khan, and another reward. I will always have fond memories of Shergar and the day we met and it’s so sad what happened to him a couple of years later.”

Shergar with his trainer Michael Stoute, left, and his lad Dickie McCabe
Shergar with his trainer Michael Stoute, left, and his lad Dickie McCabe

Andrew then carried on to work where he later received a call from the police. “The officer thanked me for my actions and said: ‘Did you know you have just caught Shergar, the Derby winner?’ After that the phones were red hot with newspapers and television asking for interviews which I declined,” said Andrew. “I was asked if I would mind going to meet Michael Stoute, Shergar’s trainer, which I did, and he thanked me and gave me a little reward and a few days later I got a lovely letter from Shergar’s owner breeder, the Aga Khan, and another reward. I will always have fond memories of Shergar and the day we met and it’s so sad what happened to him a couple of years later.”

Retired work rider Cliff Lines, who rode Shergar in all his work, remembered the incident. “I wasn’t riding him that day. The boss had another of his good lads on him and he whipped round as he was about to canter on the Limekilns and off he went.

“He was usually very good and quiet and only two people ever fell off him, the other was Lester Piggott, who got dropped on Racecourse Side but managed to keep hold of him. I can hardly believe it was 40 years ago and well done to Andrew for catching him.”

Andrew joined Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service back in 1975 and as well as working in Bury St Edmunds, had been an on-call firefighter at Mildenhall since 2006 being promoted to crew manager in 2009.

“It’s nice to have been part of a team that serves the community and makes sure the community is safe,” he said. And he added he was now looking forward to enjoying his retirement with his wife Heather and looking back at his career including the day he caught a Derby winner.

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