Judge applies horse sense as breeder loses battle with trainer

A local horse breeder was ordered to pay €2,500 to a trainer for unpaid fees, after he submitted as evidence a newspaper article written by himself to support his position.

Terry Mooney (64 ), of Ballyboher Stud, Streamstown was being sued by Andy Oliver, a qualified vet and horse trainer from Caledon in Co Tyrone for Stg£7,725.05 for stabling and training fees between March and October 2005. However, the court heard how Mooney and his partner, a Mr Kellegher, had paid £2,461 and of the balance Mr Oliver said he would accept a flat £5,000.

Of this, the court heard, Mr Kellegher had paid his half but Mooney had refused to do so because he believed Mr Oliver had kept his three-year-old mare “Spitiru Sanctu” in training for far longer than her worth had merited.

Also, Mooney contended, Mr Oliver had kept the horse’s passport - a document required to show its immunisation and travel patterns to the industry watchdogs - and without this, Mooney was unable to breed from the mare, thus rendering her monetarily useless in the interim.

Mr Oliver gave evidence that he had the horse in training and that she ran once in Listowel, and finished last.

“She wasn’t showing potential,” he said.

In cross-examination, Mooney claimed his horse was only in training to assess its racing ability and Mr Oliver said in his estimation this would take up to six months.

However, to counter this, Mooney, who represented himself in court, submitted an interview in a local newspaper in which another trainer claimed that such an assessment can be done in six weeks. However, what Mooney did not admit was he is the racing correspondent for the very paper he submitted in evidence and the article in question was in a very recent edition.

“If they’re fit you can assess them quickly but if they come from the field it takes longer,” said Mr Oliver.

Mooney said he made a €1,500 payment to Mr Oliver in May 2005 but could not produce a stub or bank statement to support this contention.

Mooney also claimed he wrote twice to Mr Oliver for the return of the horse’s passport but again, could not produce any copies of these to the court.

“Mr Mooney, there are some things you have to prove and sometimes strict proof is required,” said Judge David Anderson.

“If you said you paid a bill, you have to produce a cheque stub or receipt. If your horse was a car, Mr Oliver would have been entitled to hold onto it until he got paid.”

“This is not acceptable practice,” said Mooney.

“It may not be acceptable but it might be the law,” said the judge, before ordering Mooney to pay the €2,500 balance. Mooney sought compensation for the passport but was denied when it was pointed out he could have applied to Wetherbys for a replacement at any time.

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