The future of one of Europe’s oldest stud farms has a cloud hanging over it after political rows and the death of prized horses left the reputation of the 199-year-old institution battered.
Horses from Poland’s Janow Podlaski stud can sell for hundreds of thousands of pounds but the recent scandals have prompted one high-profile owner to pull her horses out and there are fears other might follow suit.
Earlier this week, Shirley Watts, the wife of Charlie Watts, the Rolling Stones drummer, withdrew her horses from the stud after two of her mares, with a combined value of £460,000, died in rapid succession.
The deaths of the horses came just weeks after the Polish government sacked the management board of the state-owned stud and fired Marek Trela, the director who had been at Janow for 38 years, replacing him with a man who, by his own admission, knows little about horses.
The appointment of Marek Skomorowski, an economist by profession, raised eyebrows in Poland’s horse world, and prompted allegations that the government was putting its people in positions of authority in order to cement its hold on power regardless of their competencies.
The government has, however, initiated a criminal investigation into the deaths of Mrs Watts’ horses.
In a statement Mr Jurgiel said that to have two horses die so suddenly gave “reasonable grounds for suspicion” that the deaths were the “intentional acts of third parties”. Continue reading »
FEATURED IMAGE: Preparations are made for the transport of the mares owned by Shirley Watts CREDIT: EPA.