The two have formed one of the most successful partnerships in the sport for the past eight years, with Kurten a long-time presence in the Rolex World Rankings top 10, particularly as a result of her success with the mare Castle Forbes Libertina.
In a statement issued by her legal representative, Ms Forbes said she had terminated her contract with Ms Kürten on December 31. She said that “after Ms Kürten refused... to hand over the horses to the owner Lady Forbes after the contract had come to an end, Lady Forbes explicitly forbade her to take part in tournaments with the horses”.
Ms Forbes claimed she was subsequently forced to seek legal “support”, that a temporary injunction to have the horses returned is pending and that “further legal actions will follow”.
Ms Forbes was responding to a story on a German website yesterday, which claimed there were financial commitments which needed to be cleared up between the owner and Kürten, as well as third parties, while the website said issues with the German tax authorities were also outstanding.
However, Ms Forbes said in her statement that “Ms Kürten doesn’t have any claims concerning Lady Forbes”.
Ms Kürten’s spokesperson, Martina Brüeske, last night said there was a disagreement about how taxes on prizemoney needed to be divided between her client and Ms Forbes. However, she said Kürten understood that this was not the reason for the horses not competing.
The spokesperson later added that blood samples would be taken from the horses soon, as requested by Ms Forbes, but she said they must be independently analysed.
The spokesperson also claimed that an injunction to have the horses returned was over-ruled twice by the German courts.
Earlier, in a statement, Ms Kürten said: “We know that Lady Forbes has made it clear that she is displeased, although no important reasons have been named or discussed.” The statement also said that Kürten “sees no reason why the matter cannot be resolved”.
Ms Forbes resides in Newtownforbes, Co Longford, at Castle Forbes, which gives its title to five horses she has with Ms Kurten. Libertina has been the Antrim rider’s main foil, but she has also tasted success with Castle Forbes Cosma. Last month, the German-based rider won the World Cup qualifier in Mechelen, Belgium, with Castle Forbes Myrtille Paulois. Ms Kürten competed for Ireland at nations cup level last year, but missed the World Equestrian Games due to an injury to Libertina and did not contest the World Cup final following a fall from a horse at home.
Ms Forbes runs a breeding facility at her Longford base and may opt to retire Libertina.
Kürten is competing at the World Cup show in Zurich, Switzerland, this weekend, but last night it was Corkman Billy Twomey who made the news inside the arena by winning the grand prix on Tinka’s Serenade.
Meanwhile, Offaly rider Darragh Kenny and Gael Force blew the opposition away to win the $31,000 Challenge Cup in Florida.