Randwick trainer John O’Shea issued a warning to trainers and bloodstock agents after the Court of Appeal ordered him to pay substantial damages and costs to racehorse owner Bert Vieira on Monday.
“The decision has major ramifications for anyone that buys yearlings and then on-sells them to clients,” O’Shea declared. “It will cost me more than $500,000 and I’m considering my future in the industry.”
Vieira took action after buying a 70% share in a Dehere colt that cost $330,000 at the 2007 Gold Coast Magic Millions. The colt was sold with a cyst on his near-hind stifle but was assessed as being “low risk with time” after x-rays were taken at the Randwick Equine Centre.
The Court of Appeal ruled that acknowledged a veterinary problem that O’Shea had not passed on to Vieira. O’Shea will have to foot most of the bill as the ATA public indemnity insurance is capped at $75,000.
The Viera family is well-known in racing through their recent feature winners Torio’s Quest (Oratorio) and Walking Or Dancing (Falvelon).
Torio’s Quest was a $15,000 buy at the 2009 Adelaide Magic Millions and has earned over $890,000. Walking Or Dancing cost $85,000 at the 2006 Gold Coast Magic Millions and won $612,000 before embarking on a stud career in Queensland.
John O’Shea rapidly established himself as one of Australia’s premier trainers after learning the ropes with Bart Cummings and Gai Waterhouse.
Monday’s decision comes less than six months after a dispute between Anthony Cummings and Nathan Tinkler was settled privately before it was due to be heard in Sydney’s Supreme Court.
Cummings had initiated legal proceedings for unpaid fees and Tinkler counter-claimed after he alleged the Randwick trainer had collected secret commissions from vendors when buying yearlings on behalf of Patinack Farm.
A Code of Conduct was released by the industry’s major players last year in order to bring greater transparency and accountability to agents acting on behalf of buyers.
The Code includes a Complaints Advisory Panel whereby an aggrieved party can seek a resolution without having to resort to expensive and time consuming legal action.
“There are a lot of grey areas when buying yearlings,” Inglis director Jonathan D’Arcy said shortly after the Court of Appeal decision this week. “We will look at the ruling and work with our clients to do everything to protect them in the future.”