12 February, 2011

Bizarre horse racing deaths:

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The Newbury parade ring after the deaths of two horses
 "Connections to Marching Song believe he may have been electrocuted"

 I seldom mention horse racing on this site, but exceptions can, and sometimes need to be made.
Two horses dropped dead at the high-profile Newbury race meeting today amid suspicions they may have been electrocuted.
Fenix Two and Marching Song collapsed and died in the parade ring before the first race of the day.
An inquiry has been announced and both horses will undergo immediate post-mortems.
Trainer Nicky Henderson, whose horse Kid Cassidy was due to run in the race, said: “About a minute before it happened, Kid Cassidy was walking in the same corner of the paddock. I had my back turned but my daughter said ‘your horse has gone down’.
Horse drops dead  "out of nowhere"
“He got back up again and he went to the start. All the horses at the start had their hearts checked and he was fine, but he was desperately keen so I decided to take him out. Electrocution is the most obvious possibility. Nobody is to blame really, but I think you’d only really find out when they’ve done a post-mortem. The worst thing is what happened to the horses and it’s all very odd.”
Andy Turnell, trainer of Marching Song, said: “It looks like they’ve been electrocuted. My fellow seemed perfectly all right and I was about to leg him up but he just went straight down.”
Jonjo O’Neill, trainer of Fenix Two, said: “Kid Cassidy was in front and he took a turn. We thought he was bucking and kicking and he went down on his knees then he seemed to be OK. Mine reared up and we couldn’t get him back, it was like he was stuck to the ground. It was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Area cordonned off after horse deaths
Marching Song’s part-owner Graham Thorner said: “I was very fond of him and he had great potential. To a layman with no evidence, you would say it was electrical. The lad who was with him was saying, ‘I’m getting an electric shock off this horse’.
“It can’t be coincidence four horses have done the same thing and two have died, all in the same area. Three people said they were getting a shock off the horse. I hope we find out what it was but it doesn’t bring the horses back.”
Asked about rumours that a lead rein on one of the dead horses looked burned as if it had been electrocuted, stipendiary steward Paul Barton said: “One of the reasons we couldn’t continue was because of all the speculation.
“The lead rein could have snapped if it was stood on by another horse when it was on the ground. The rein will go away for forensic examination to establish what happened to it.
“We certainly won’t get the results of the post mortems today and after our meeting at 3pm I doubt we will be making any more statements.”
Despite going ahead with the first race, a decision was later taken to call the rest of the meeting off.
Christopher Spence, Newbury’s chairman, said: “It’s a nightmare for everybody. We can’t be certain what it is, we all think it’s electric, but we don’t know.
“It’s easy to say carry on and hope for the best, but just hoping is not something we should or could do. We’ve got to look after our customers and we’ve got to look after the horses, so very regrettably we’ve called the meeting off.
“It’s defeated everyone and we don’t know the answer. We’ll have a meeting to decide if we can re-run any of the races and we’ll make further announcements as soon as we possibly can. We’ve looked at the cables and we couldn’t see any damage and no work has been carried out on the paddock since the last meeting.”
Professor Tim Morris, director of Equine Science and Welfare for the British Horseracing Authority, confirmed a full investigation is under way.
He said: “Following the tragic events at Newbury today, our sympathies go out to connections of the two horses that died, Fenix Two and Marching Song.
“We have launched a full investigation into the events before the first race.
Whilst there are suspicions that an electrical fault was the cause and this is being looked into by the racecourse and relevant authorities, it is important that we investigate other possible causes.
Racing abandoned to commence horse death investigation
“Both horses have been sent for post-mortem examinations, and samples from both horses, and from the other two horses involved in the incident, have been taken and will be analysed.
“We will also be testing a sample of the water supply and have secured and will review all of the CCTV footage from the racecourse stables and footage from the parade ring itself at the time.
“We have gathered evidence and statements at the racecourse from the connections involved with the incident, including trainers, jockeys, stable staff and owners, the racecourse and BHA veterinary officers, and the racecourse executive including the health and safety officer.”
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