Sports

Horses not immune to Guinness curse 0

SCOTT ROWE

St. Patrick's Day passed by yesterday, and around the globe many people celebrated with festive parties and/or some wearin' o' the green.

In more than 50 countries, those who wish to imbibe will have the ability to do so with a pint of Guinness, one of the most famous beers in the world and a brand name synonymous with the Emerald Isle, four leaf clovers and the indomitable love of life of the Irish.

The history of this legendary beer began with founder Arthur Guinness, who turned a 100 pound inheritance into the richest fortune in Ireland.

Arthur made a commitment to excellence and a long-term commitment to his brewery and family. In 1759, he took out a 9,000-year lease on the St. James Gate four acre property where the secret ingredients are still exported around the world to the many far flung breweries of the company.

Naturally, great wealth, notoriety and generous philanthropies to the church and community brought fame and attention to the Guinness family.

They became the pillars of Irish politics and social life in Ireland with a surprising proportion of family making important contributions to the clergy, as well.

In the superstitious land of leprechauns and fairies, it was also rumoured that a dark cloud hung over the fabled family and the legend of the 'Guinness Curse' was born.

Is the Guinness name destined to be ill-fated? Of the 21 children born to Arthur, only 10 survived to adulthood, perhaps not a totally surprising statistic in the 18th century. In later generations, Lady Henrietta Guinness jumped off a bridge in Italy and committed suicide, four-year-old Peter Guinness died in a car crash, Maj. Denys Guinness died of a drug overdose and Jennifer Guinness was a kidnap victim of the IRA during the height of the civil unrest between the north and south.

Oonagh Guinness lost both a son and a daughter, the son, Tara, dying in a car crash which inspired the Beatles to write the song A Day in the Life.

Even the famous Irish love of horses has a Guinness Curse connection.

When the Irish Republican Army kidnapped Shergar, probably the greatest racehorse ever born in Ireland, and held it for ransom, it was an event which shocked and mortified the nation and the world.

To this day, the remains of the ill-fated 'Shergar' have never been recovered and the mystery remains unsolved.

Shergar was owned by the Aga Khan, whose mother was former Joan Guinness.

Recently, a mystery has developed on this side of the pond with the disappearance of a valuable Grand Prix equestrian horse. After being sold, the unfortunate animal was shipped from the West Coast to its new owner in New York, and, somewhere along the way, in a period of some four days, the animal was switched for a look alike of much less talent.

Only lately has the crime surfaced when the imposter was discovered to have little or no jumping ability.

The missing horse's name was Good Guinness.

Is it all coincidence or something more mysterious? It may be a great name for a great beer, but unlucky for everyone else.

Scott Rowe is the former chairman of the board at Georgian Downs


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