The future of one of Europe's oldest stud farms is in doubt after two horses belonging to the wife of Charlie Watts, The Rolling Stones' drummer, died in rapid succession.

Shirley Watts withdrew her other horses last week from 199-year-old state-owned Janow Podlaski stud in eastern Poland after the death of two mares with a combined value of 460,000 ($952,000). Other wealthy owners may now follow suit.

Mrs Watts has also threatened to sue the Polish Government over the loss.

The deaths came just weeks after the Government sacked the stud's director of 38 years and replaced him with an economist who admits to knowing little about horses.


Watts and his wife of 52 years are among Britain's most high-profile horse breeders.

Mrs Watts regularly entertains buyers at her 240ha Halsdon Arabians stud near Dolton, Devon, and every august breeder from Europe, the Middle East and the US converge on it to assess its foals.

The business, founded more than 20 years ago, is estimated to be worth around 10 million, although that is dwarfed by the 100 million or more earned by Watts' music career.

"I am going to sue them because of the way they treated my mares.

"They also kept me in the dark," Mrs Watts told the Guardian.

The Polish Government sacked the management board of Janow Podlaski and fired Marek Trela, its director.

His replacement by Marek Skomorowski attracted the ire of influential figures in the Arabian horse breeding world.