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Horse owner must pay up €19m debts

THREE months after a victory parade in the Cheltenham winners' enclosure, a co-owner of champion racehorse Quevega is facing financial ruin.

Sean Deane -- the self proclaimed 'Trowel' in a partnership that has taken the racing world by storm -- has suffered a major setback after Ulster Bank won €19m judgment orders against him.

Mr Deane, one half of the Hammer and Trowel Syndicate, and his brother Anthony, are being chased for the massive debts arising from unpaid loans dating back to 2008.

The Commercial Court granted €19m worth of judgment orders against the brothers -- after rejecting their claim that they had struck an agreement that the money would be repaid following the sale of a series of properties.

The bank says it gave the loans to Anthony Deane, of Brighton Road, Foxrock, Dublin, and Sean Deane, of Cappadoo, Clane, Co Kildare, in 2008 but they have never been repaid.

The news comes just 13 weeks after Sean Deane celebrated one of the proudest days of his life -- watching Quevega romp home to secure the coveted Mare's hurdle for the fourth year in a row.

Mr Deane co-owns the horse with another developer Ger O'Brien -- with the pair calling themselves 'The Hammer' and 'The Trowel'.

Mr O'Brien was not involved in yesterday's judgement.

The Herald exclusively revealed during Cheltenham week that Mr O'Brien's construction firm lost €600,000 the year before with the company owing his creditors more than €10m.

Now, the commercial court has ruled that his syndicate partner, Sean Deane, owes massive debts. The Deane brothers' loans included €10.4m to fund tax expenses and to pay for the costs relating to a Bank of Ireland investment in Brussels.

A further €3.37m was provided to fund the purchase of 34 apartments in Rathfarnham.

Overall, it was ruled, the brothers' total indebtedness came to €19m.

The Deanes claimed they had struck an agreement that the debts would be repaid after a number of properties were sold.

While the bank accepted that this may have been agreed verbally -- it said the agreement had no legal grounding.