Breeder in £120k legal battle over foal with lung infection

  • The breeder of a foal who returned from stud with a lung infection is suing the stud owners for £120,000.

    Karen Watson is locked in a three-year legal dispute with Stephen and Josephine Knowles, of Beechwood Grange Stud, Yorkshire.

    Miss Watson’s foal Sidney was born at Beechwood Grange in April 2010, out of her mare Club Oasis, by the stud’s stallion Firebreak.

    She said the colt’s full sisters had sold for £120,000 each, but Sidney is now worthless as a racehorse having contracted rattles.

    The Court of Appeal heard Sidney was coughing when he and his dam came home.

    He was treated by a vet but Miss Watson said the damage had been done.

    She is suing for the loss of Sidney’s estimated £120,000 value, in a case she says will also mean a £300,000 legal bill for the losing party.

    Mr and Mrs Knowles deny responsibility for Sidney’s illness and were exonerated by a county court judge in 2014. But Miss Watson succeeded in overturning that ruling.

    The court heard that Sidney was displaying signs of diarrhoea and a temperature of 102F.

    Lord Justice Jackson said the Knowles did not tell the vet who attended about the high temperature.

    The vet treated Sidney for a “stomach upset”, rather than looking for a more serious ailment.

    Miss Watson maintains that, had the vet been appraised of all the facts, Sidney would have received prompt treatment for his condition which would have prevented permanent damage.

    Lord Justice Jackson said: “Sidney contracted rattles in the first few weeks of his life.

    “That was not the fault of the stud, which maintains proper standards of hygiene.

    “But the judge fell into error in his ruling that Mrs and Mrs Knowles had no duty to inform the vet of Sidney’s elevated temperature.

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    “They ought to have appreciated that Sidney’s temperature was an important matter… it is not appropriate to withhold material from a vet in the hope that he will find it out himself.

    “The appeal will be allowed and the judgment set aside. The case will be remitted to Leeds County Court for a retrial.”

    Lord Justice Jackson said he hoped there would be “a serious attempt to settle this litigation”.

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