Horse trainer Aidan O'Brien suing Glanbia over alleged contaminated feed

Glanbia denies it is responsible for the alleged losses and will be seeking an indemnity from a third party which it says is entirely responsible for losses resulting in contaminated feed, the court heard.
Horse trainer Aidan O'Brien suing Glanbia over alleged contaminated feed

High court reporters

Horse trainer Aidan O'Brien, his son Donnacha, Coolmore Stud, Ballydoyle Racing as well as a number of other companies, are suing Glanbia for €30 million over alleged contaminated feed.

It forced the withdrawal of a number of horses from the Longchamp Racing festival in France in 2020, the Commercial Court has heard.

Glanbia denies it is responsible for the alleged losses and will be seeking an indemnity from a third party which it says is entirely responsible for losses resulting in contaminated feed, the court heard.

The proceedings are being brought by the O'Briens, Linley Investments t/a Coolmore Castlehyde and Associated Stud Farms and Golden Dale Unlimited trading as Ballydoyle Racing.

They are also being brought by Orpendale Unlimited Co, Chelston (Ireland) Unlimited Co, Wynatt Unlimited Co, Bengurragh Ltd, Roncon Unlimited Co and Whisperview Trading No 2 Unlimited Co which are corporate entities with shared ownership in a number of racehorses.

Performance enhancer

It is alleged that arising out of the supply by Glanbia of batches of "gain" racehorse cubes, which were contaminated with the performance enhancer Zilpaterol, that a number of racehorses were withdrawn from the Paris racing festival in October 2020.

John Kealy, financial controller of Ballydoyle Racing, in an affidavit seeking entry of the case to the fast Commercial Court on Monday, said urine samples taken in advance of the Paris festival confirmed the presence of Zilpaterol which came from the contaminated feed.

The plaintiffs, he said, had no option but to withdraw their horses from Longchamp and therefore suffered the loss of the opportunity to race and win prize money there.

One of the major consequences of the withdrawal was that the loss of the breeding value, arising from of the horse "Wembley", a son of major prize winner "Galileo".

This was because Wembley was deprived of attaining Group One winner status in the later Dewhurst Stakes race in Newmarket, it is claimed.

Breeding value

Mr Kealy said the fact that Wembley did not attain Group One status meant a loss of approximately €30 million in the breeding value of the animal had he been sold straight after a victory at Dewhurst.

The losses suffered also included race entry fee, the cost of testing, travel and sending replacement equine feed to Australia, accommodation, consultant fees, management time and legal costs associated with investigating the contamination incident, Mr Kealy said.

There was also the loss of the increased value of the horses that were due to run at Longchamp and the cost of training fees paid to the horse owners.

There were further losses of an opportunity to get free entry into the US Breeders' Cup and damage to the plaintiffs' reputation.

On the application of Michael Collins SC, for the plaintiffs, Mr Justice Denis McDonald admitted the case to the commercial list on Monday.

Declan McGrath SC, for Glanbia, had no objection to the entry application but said an important step in the case will be to join ED&F Man Liquid Products Ireland as a third party in the case. ED&F Man supplied molasses related to the contamination incident, it is claimed.

Mr McGrath said it was his side's view that the contaminant was supplied by ED&F Man and "any claim in relation to losses rests entirely with that entity".

Glanbia has brought its own proceedings against ED&F Man and says it does not accept liability for the losses suffered as a result of the provision of the contaminated foodstuffs.

Mr Justice McDonald approved directions for the progressing of the case which he said could come back in October.

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