A financial spat between a horse owner and trainer over $34,000 in repairs to a truck has been fought out in court.
Euroa horse owner Wayne Ross took Wangaratta trainer Steve Cunningham and his company Cresevia Racing to the civil court to claim back the money he said he was owed.
Mr Cunningham had received an $800 quote for work to raise the rear rail of his 12-tonne horse truck.
He had been training Mr Ross's horses for years and the truck ended up at his Euroa farm for repairs instead.
But as was revealed during a heated three-day hearing in Wangaratta Magistrates Court this week, the versions of what the pair had or had not agreed to were very different.
Mr Ross claimed that one problem with the truck led to another and an independent assessment found the $43,000 cost of repairs was "fair and reasonable" - he billed Mr Cunningham $34,000.
He said Mr Cunningham offered to reduce his training fees in exchange for the repair work.
But Mr Cunningham said that never happened and the repair to the rail was a favour.
"He said 'why waste the money, come here and I'll do it for you.' He was pretty insistent," he said.
"A couple of weeks turned into nine or 10 months."
He said it was "ridiculous" that Mr Ross did not provide him any quotes or work orders as he would have said "no" if asked for permission to do $34,000 worth of repairs to a 24-year-old truck.
"I was never given any opportunity to refuse," he said.
"There was no agreement that had to pay for the truck, so I shouldn't have to pay for it."
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Mr Ross also claimed Mr Cunningham caused $4000 damage to his horse float when borrowing it during the repair period.
Magistrate Peter Dunn travelled to Mr Ross's Euroa farm on Tuesday to view the truck himself and handed down his verdict on Thursday.
"It comes down to who's to be believed, Mr Ross or Mr Cunningham?" he said.
In the case of the truck repairs, he believed Mr Ross and ordered Mr Cunningham pay the $34,081 plus $4544 in interest.
Mr Dunn said it was clear Mr Cunningham knew the work was being done but was taken aback by the cost, and witnesses gave evidence to say he saw and authorised the work as it was happening.
But he ruled in favour of Mr Cunningham on the issue of damage to the borrowed horse float, saying Mr Ross knew there would be wear and tear from the horses when he agreed to lend it to the trainer.
Mr Cunningham represented himself, rather than having a lawyer, so the tension escalated when it was time for him to question Mr Ross directly in the witness box.
He said the agreement for work in exchange for lower training fees was "just a story you came up with".
The feud over the truck had spilled into their horse racing arrangement when Mr Ross wanted his horses back from the trainer, but Mr Cunningham refused until the previous month's training fee had been paid.
Stewards were called in to organise for the money to be paid and the horse returned.
The court heard Mr Ross had agreed to return the fixed truck at one point, but changed his mind.
"I got this inkling he was never going to pay for the truck, so I held onto it as compensation," Mr Ross said.
"I thought you were genuine ... I'm an honest worker, I do not bill people until I've done the job."
Mr Dunn had warned both men over their behaviour during the hearing; Mr Cunningham for arguing with witnesses instead of asking questions and Mr Ross for openly laughing during witness evidence.
Mr Cunningham's written settlement offer of $10,000 was refused, as it was less than Mr Dunn's order of costs.