Polo-playing bloodstock agent Charles Gordon-Watson is heading for a High Court showdown with auctioneers Tattersalls, who accuse him of failing to pay £2.7million for horses he has bought.

Mr Gordon-Watson was the highest bidder for three mares, thought to be in-foal, at Tattersalls’ Newmarket sale last December, according to a High Court writ. The mares were knocked down to him on behalf of his client Michael Baker for £2,751,262.50, the writ says.

Tattersalls says neither he nor Mr Baker have paid for the mares and it wants the horses back. It accuses Mr Gordon-Watson and Mr Baker of failing to return the mares, and any foals they might have had, in breach of contract.

Tattersalls says that both the bloodstock agent and his client are liable for the cost of the mares — lots 2278, 2285 and 2299 — and for the interest on the outstanding sum.

Solicitors for the auctioneers demanded the return of the three mares on 12 February this year, but the pair have failed to comply with the demand, the writ says.

Tattersalls argues that it is entitled to resell the horses, and any foals they might have had, and to recover any shortfall in the price from the two men.

Mr Gordon-Watson, who plays polo at Cirencester, is an international bloodstock agent whose clients include Lord and Lady Lloyd-Webber, John Magnier and Sir Alex Ferguson.

He bought the horse Kris Kin, who won the 2003 Derby, eight Classic winners and 25 individual Group 1 winners.

A spokesman for Tattersalls said: “We are confident that the issue will be resolved, but there is not a lot more to add at this point.”

Mr Gordon-Watson declined to comment.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (27 March, ’08)