The son of a doctor, Stan Cosgrove worked as a GP himself until his early 40s when he spotted a gap in the market: equine medicine. He soon became the preferred vet to nearly every major Irish racing trainer and set up the first private horse hospital in the British Isles. His expertise was so valued that he was headhunted by billionaire Walter Haefner to manage the newly established Moyglare Stud farm, a role he performed until his late 80s.
However, Cosgrove’s place in history comes from a horse not from the Moyglare Stud. Shergar had won the Derby, the Irish Derby and the King George in a dominant three-year-old campaign – arguably making him Ireland’s most famous active athlete. Retired to stud, his owner the Aga Khan split the rights between a syndicate – Cosgrove among them.
It’s at this point things go downhill. The story of Shergar’s kidnapping has been told numerous times, and in endless documentaries – and it’s as entertaining every time. While the Irish Gardai allegedly retained the services of some 50 clairvoyants to help find the horse, the IRA were unable to look after him because the only vet they could find was having marital issues. So they shotgunned him to death (the horse, not the vet).
Cosgrove was one of the men tasked with acting as an intermediary between the Ra and the cops: firstly as a go-between for messages left at a hotel under the name “Johnny Logan”, and then putting up £80,000 of his own money to act as a random – which the police then lost and didn’t refund him for. Cosgrove’s last public appearance came on TV in 2018 in another documentary on these matters.