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Scientist doubts if Shergar case is drawing to a close

The head of the Weatherbys' Bloodtyping Laboratories in Co. Kildare, John Flynn, yesterday sought to play down stories that an end to the 13- year riddle of Shergar's disappearance is near.

The exhumation of a carcass in Co Donegal has sparked hopes of an identification of the colt, kidnapped from the Ballymany Stud in 1983. But DNA profiles from the carcass, from Shergar's offspring and hair samples taken from the horse when he was alive by souvenir hunters must first be built before there is a possibility of knowing whether the remains are those of the 1981 Derby winner.

Flynn, who will mastermind the process, warned: "The potential is there for a 100%, unequivocal identification that the carcass is that of Shergar - but there is a very long and difficult time ahead.

"There will have to be a complete and thorough testing procedure and we will be relying on how the owners of Shergar's offspring respond.

"A DNA profile has to be built from the carcass and then matched with the DNA profiles from other material, sources of hair which have come to light and Shergar's offspring.

"If all three were to match up, that would amount to overwhelming evidence, but the material is between 12 and 13 years old and it is a very protracted and uncertain business."