| 16.1°C Dublin

Stallion owners 'sent perfectly fit animal for slaughter', court hears


The Tartan Spartan running in a race at Limerick Racecourse back in 2018

The Tartan Spartan running in a race at Limerick Racecourse back in 2018

The Tartan Spartan running in a race at Limerick Racecourse back in 2018

The owners of a "broken down" stallion sent for slaughter, but which was later entered in a race, were embarrassed because they sent a perfectly good animal to be put down, the High Court has heard.

Thistle Bloodstock, whose beneficial owner is Dubai-based Jim Long, should not be given a continued injunction to prevent the Tartan Spartan from being entered into races, horse trainer Philip Fenton and horse dealer Jim Derwin have argued.

Thistle was granted the injunction against the two men after its manager and trainer Andrew Hughes picked up a newspaper last February 7 to see the horse had been entered at Naas Racecourse the next day.

On February 7, Thistle got the injunction following a one side only represented application.


The case was back yesterday when Thistle sought to continue the injunction until the legal title to the horse has been determined.

Mr Fenton and Mr Derwin oppose the continuation of the injunction. Mr Justice Senan Allen said he would try to give his ruling today.

Stephen Lanigan-O'Keeffe SC, for Thistle, said the six-year-old stallion had broken down last year and was sent for slaughter to Mr Derwin, an international horse dealer, solely for the purpose of having it put down.

It was not sent for resale and the horsebox driver and Mr Derwin were supposed to receive €300 to €500 from the knackery, depending on whether its meat could be used for pet food, counsel said.

However, counsel said, Mr Derwin "in a rather strange transaction" sold the horse on to Mr Fenton, who said he purchased it in good faith for €2,000. Thistle seeks the return of the horse but in the meantime is satisfied that it is being well looked after by Mr Fenton, counsel said.

As it has now been gelded, Thistle was prepared to give it a home for the rest of its life, he said.

His client's main concern was the horse's welfare and to uphold a policy and principle that its horses should be looked after until end of life.

Mr Derwin, in an affidavit, said the driver of the horsebox who was taking a number of horses from Thistle for slaughter rang him and said he [Mr Derwin] might be interested in the Tartan Spartan.

He had no dealings at all with Thistle and was "aghast" when he was informed an injunction had been granted against him earlier this month.

His reputation was vital to his business.

Mr Fenton, whose wife Patricia Hogan says she is now registered owner of the horse, said in an affidavit Thistle "is embarrassed at having sold a perfectly good horse".

James Nicholson BL, for Mr Derwin, said the crucial issue in this case was that Mr Hughes had got rid of a "an obviously good horse".

Dermot B Cahill, for Mr Fenton, said his client acted as a bona fide purchaser.