Mys­tery over mass pony deaths

Geelong Advertiser - - NEWS - ANEEKA SIMONIS

A FOR­MER cap­tain of Aus­tralia’s polo team is de­mand­ing an­swers af­ter 16 of his ponies were dis­cov­ered “dead and cold” soon af­ter disem­bark­ing the Spirit of Tas­ma­nia.

An­drew Williams re­turned to Vic­to­ria with his A-grade ponies af­ter com­pet­ing in the Barn­bougle Polo event in Tas­ma­nia on Jan­uary 20.

He claims the ponies were “dead within an hour of the cross­ing” and said the tragedy had cost him a “price­less” breed­ing line that could spell the end of his busi­ness.

Mr Williams, owner of the NSW-based Willo polo team, de­scribed the hor­ri­fy­ing mo­ment he opened the door to his horse truck. “Within an hour of leav­ing the boat, I had 16 horses dead and cold, and two fight­ing to sur­vive,” he said.

They were taken to the Wagga Wagga equine hospi­tal, which is con­duct­ing au­top­sies.

The ponies trav­elled on the Spirit of Tas­ma­nia overnight on Jan­uary 28.

An A-grade polo pony can be worth more than $100,000.

The Depart­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries in Tas­ma­nia is lead­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion with chief ve­teri­nary of­fi­cers in Vic­to­ria, Tas­ma­nia and NSW.

The op­er­a­tors of the Spirit of Tas­ma­nia de­clined to com­ment.

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