Barnbougle Golf and Polo owner Richard Sattler said the 16 horses that died in transit from Tasmania to NSW were loved “like children”.
“We are totally devastated for all involved, especially Andrew Williams and the Willo Polo team – they loved those horses like children,” he said.
“The polo has become a great event for Northern Tasmania, which has been embraced by all sponsors including the Spirit of Tasmania.
“This is truly a tragic loss and our thoughts are with all involved.”
Mr Sattler said the horses left his property on Sunday, January 28, looking “relaxed and well” after having a week of rest after the Barnbougle Polo on January 20.
Mr Williams said his career and livelihood had been put on hold after discovering 16 of the horses dead, an hour after departing from the Spirit of Tasmania in Melbourne.
“I have lost a breeding line that was priceless to me, and I have already had to knock back playing commitments,” he said.
“I am a farmer, a polo player and a breeder of ponies.
“They are the reason I can feed my family.
“To have that taken away is gut-wrenching.”
It is understood 10 of the horses belonged to Mr Williams and the rest were owned by his employer, Johnny Kahlbetzer, the son of German-born agribusiness baron John Dieter Kahlbetzer.
The Kahlbetzer family own Jemalong Polo Club in NSW where the horses were based.
The Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment department is leading an investigation into the incident, assisted by authorities in Victoria and NSW.
The Spirit of Tasmania was found to have complied with the requirements relating to the carriage of livestock.