Police are investigating allegations that a colt foal was stolen at the Brightwells Welsh cob sales at Builth Wells on 18 October.

Lot number 615, Henfynyw Bailey, went missing after he was sold for nearly £600 to breeder Liz Launder.

He was reunited with her five days later after what Brightwells says was “mistaken identity”.

“Henfynyw Bailey was the second of two identical palomino colts sold — 614 and 615,” said Mrs Launder. “When I went to see him, his lot number was defaced, so I rewrote 615 and gave his passport and pass-out papers to the transporter.”

But the colt was missing when the transporter arrived. Police were called, despite Brightwells insisting the colt “must be somewhere”.

Four days later Mrs Launder was told the pony had been found — with the lady who purchased lot 614, for £200.

Brightwells director Terry Court said: “A mother and daughter bought a mare and colt [Henfynyw Teifion, lot 614] and both foals were in the same pen.”

Mr Court said the mother, Nicky Dawkins, set up transport separately from her daughter, Chloe. He said Chloe put lot 614 on one lorry, while Nicky put the mare and lot 615 on another, belonging to Martin Rogers, adding the pair said they were unaware of each other’s actions.

Mr Court admitted the lorry carrying 614 left Builth Wells without the usual security checks because Mrs Dawkins caused an accident by leaving the handbrake off her car. In the ensuing confusion, Brightwells allowed the lorry to slip through.

But Martin Rogers told H&H: “Nicky and Chloe loaded both ponies. Police called me as I was driving and the description they gave me of the missing pony — lot 615 — fitted the colt I had on board, which was supposed to be 614.”

He confirmed the foal had no sale sticker and said: “Security at Brightwells is usually tight.”

Mr Court maintains the foal was taken in error, adding: “This is only the second time a pony has been released to the wrong home in 10 years.”

But Mrs Launder said: “If it is a mistake, it was a bloody big one.”

A spokesman for Dyfed Powys Police said: “An investigation is ongoing, there’s currently no evidence of criminal activity.”

Mrs Dawkins did not return our calls.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (29 October, ’09)