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Ownership dispute now to be heard in high court

A DISPUTE between bloodstock agent Hugo Merry and owners Charles Colthurst and Caroline Myers over the ownership of a valuable horse in training is set to be brought to a full court hearing in October, after a temporary injunction obtained by Merry to prevent the couple from racing the horse was discharged.

Merry alleges that he owns 60 per cent of Blarney Highwayman, a five-year-old gelding who won a Kilworth point-to-point in the ownership of Colthurst and Myers in March.

Merry bred the son of Red Ransom – a half-brother to Derby fourth Sunshine Street – at his Kilshannig Stud, County Cork, and had planned to sell him at the Goffs Land Rover Sale in 2008.

But after the horse developed ring bone (a form of joint disease that can cause pain and interfere with the normal working of the joint), which forced his withdrawal from the sale, Merry claims that he entered into a verbal agreement with his "good friends" Colthurst and Myers whereby 40 per cent of the horse would be gifted to the couple.

In return, theywere required to pay for the gelding's upkeep. The passport was then sent to the defendants.

Colthurst and Myers deny that they entered into any partnership agreement and claim that the horse was gifted to them in full.

However, in an affidavit, Merry says that the deal was confirmed in the presence of Brendan Holland, who was preparing the gelding at his Grove Stud.

Blarney Highwayman was sent to trainer John Kiely in Dungarvan upon Merry's recommendation but was later switched by the defendants to Adrian Maguire in Mallow, who has trained him for each of his three starts.

Following the gelding's latest run when unplaced in a bumper at Tipperary in late April, Merry obtaineda temporary injunction restraining the defendants from doing anything that would reduce Blarney Highwayman's value, which is believed to be in the region of €100,000 to €200,000. That injunction was discharged earlier this month by Ms Justice Mary Laffoy.

Merry said in an affidavit that he had purchased over 200 horses during the past year for clients and that the vast majority of his deals are done on trust, a handshake and his reputation. He proposes that the horsebe sold at the next appropriate sale and the money be lodged in a court pending the full hearing.

However, Maguire said in an affidavit that he believed training and racing the horse was essential to the preservation of the horse's value.




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