Show jumper Michael Whitaker has lost two of his highest-earning horses after a disagreement with their French owner.

Two weeks ago, Yves Lauwers, owner of the Haras des Hayettes stud in Normandy, took back the six horses he had placed with Michael, including Mozart Des Hayettes and Quidame Des Hayettes. He also took back Merva Des Hayettes, who was ridden by Guy Williams on Michael’s behalf.

“I’m OK with it,” said Michael, speaking fresh from his win in Sunday’s Euroclassics Final at CSI4* Bremen, Germany on his own Wonami Van Den Aard.

“The horses had been with me for two years, but I had a disagreement with the owner and he took them back two weeks ago.”

Michael said the disagreement was something “totally unrelated” to how he was producing the horses, but declined to say what.

Quidame and Mozart recently featured in H&H’s list of the highest-earning competition horses over the past two years (Britain’s highest earning horses, 17 January). Insul Tech Mozart Des Hayettes was second-placed with earnings of £184,279 and Quidame Des Hayettes was eighth, having earned £100,823.

Mr Lauwers told H&H that Michael had failed to sell the horses as agreed, and that it was impossible to do embryo transfers with the mares in Britain. He said he is gradually withdrawing the Haras des Hayettes horses from top competition, to devote more time to breeding and producing.

The horses have now gone to French international riders — with the aim of selling them.

“Mozart, Quidame and Merva will be ridden by Eugenié Angot,” he said. “Lady and Lord will be ridden by Olivier Guillon and Milady and Iqbal will be ridden by the stud’s stable jockey, Gilles Botton.”

Mozart has jumped for Britain in Super League Nations Cup competitions, and British show jumping team manager Derek Ricketts said the loss of the horse was “disappointing”.

“He’s not a championship horse but Mozart was very useful. He was Michael’s second-best horse next to Suncal Portofino [owned by Gillespie Equestrian], and his loss makes it one less to choose from for Nations Cup teams,” said Mr Ricketts.

“But Michael has just won a nice class in Bremen on one of his own nine-year-olds, so the news isn’t all bad.”

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (28 February, ’08)