Owners sue Olympian over £60k ‘unfit’ eventer

  • Former Olympic rider Chris Hunnable is being sued for damages after being accused of selling a £60,000 horse he knew was unable to compete.

    Chris Hunnable and co-owner Anne Bolingbroke sold Red Quest for £60,000, despite having a vet’s report showing he had medical conditions making him unfit for competitions, it is alleged.

    Now the purchasers, Stephen and Jacqueline West and Paul Jackson, are suing Mrs Bolingbroke and Mr Hunnable for damages totalling £97,505.63.

    They paid £60,000 for the 16.1hh bay gelding in April 2003, then aged 12, for a professional rider to compete him at advanced level in eventing, according to a writ issued in London’s High Court.

    According to British Eventing’s records, Red Quest was competed by Chris Hunnable until March 2003. The pair were placed and won at intermediate and advanced level, including at Gatcombe Park and Burnham Market.

    Polly Jackson first competed the horse in May 2003, and continued to do so until May 2005. They were placed 12th at Bramham in 2003 and fifth in an open intermediate at Bicton in April 2005. Red Quest last competed at Chatsworth in May 2005, where he retired on the cross-country.

    But now the plaintiffs say the horse, by Accordian, cannot even be ridden, let alone competed, because he is suffering from kissing spines — where part of his spine rubs together painfully. He also has osteoarthritis of the back, and ligament problems in one leg.

    They accuse Mr Hunnable and Mrs Bolingbroke of knowing about these problems before selling the horse, saying they had a veterinary surgeon’s report confirming this in June 2001. They claim that the pair should have disclosed the problems, but failed to do so when selling the horse.

    Mr Hunnable, of Great Maplestead, Halstead, Essex, is a well-known face on the eventing circuit, and has ridden many different horses successfully. In 1996 he competed as an individual at the Atlanta Olympics, riding Mr Bootsie.

    • This news report was first published in Horse & Hound (9 November, ’06)

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