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Accidental electrocution the cause of Newbury deaths

Initial BHA investigation also confirms that there were no burn marks found on horses as had originally been suggested.

Image: Steve Parsons/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE BRITISH HORSERACING AUTHORITY’S investigation into the deaths of two horses at Newbury Racecourse last Saturday has found that “accidental electrocution” was the cause of death.

The incident occurred at the start of last weekend’s Totesport Trophy card when the horses, Marching Song and Fenix Two, collapsed suddenly as they prepared to go to post for the first race of the afternoon.

Though the race went ahead as planned after a lengthy delay, racing was quickly abandoned once the seriousness of the incident became clear. Newbury has been authorised by the BHA to hold the rescheduled card tomorrow afternoon.

Findings

In a statement released by the authority this afternoon, Professor Tim Morris, who is the BHA’s Director of Equine Science and Welfare stated that “the Authority has been officially informed that there was leakage of electricity from a cable under the parade ring in the area where the incident occurred.”

Both horses that died, Marching Song and Fenix Two, have undergone postmortem examinations which showed sudden cardiac arrest as the cause of death. Samples taken from the horses affected have shown no evidence of substances that could have caused this incident.

These findings are all consistent with the cause of death being accidental electrocution and at this stage we are not investigating any other cause of death.

Morris was also quick to dismiss initial speculation that burn marks had been found on some of the horses.

I can also confirm that, contrary to speculation, no evidence of any burn marks around the mouth was found on post mortem examination, neither were such marks found by the veterinary surgeons on the horses at the start.

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The racecourse’s joint managing director, Stephen Higgins, extended his sympathies to the connections of both horses. In an accompanying statement, he also reiterated that there had been “no danger to the public” last weekend, an assurance which has been confirmed by Southern Electric.

A wider review elaborating on these initial findings is expected to be published in the future.

About the author:

Niall Kelly

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