Accidental electrocution was cause of Newbury horse deaths

  • Accidental electrocution has been confirmed as the cause of death of two horses killed in the paddock at Newbury racecourse on Saturday (12 February).

    The rescheduled race meeting — The Totesport Trophy Hurdle Meeting — will take place tomorrow (Friday 18 February).

    Marching Song, trained by Andy Turnell and the Jonjo O’Neill trained Fenix Two both collapsed and died after suffering an electric shock in the parade ring before the first race.

    Post mortem results from the horses, returned today (Thursday 17 February), show sudden cardiac arrest as the cause of death for both horses.

    Investigations show an electrical discharge in the area killed the horses.

    “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,” said Professor Tim Morris, director of equine science and welfare at the British Horseracing Authority (BHA).

    He added that samples taken from the horses affected showed “no evidence of substances” that could have caused the 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,” he said.

    He also confirmed that the post mortems had shown no evidence of any burn marks around the horses’ mouths.

    “There was immediate veterinary attention, and our enquiry on the day noted the racecourse veterinary surgeons felt a tingling sensation when examining the horses, and that the veterinary surgeons noted particular clinical signs such as muscle contractions,” he added.

    An electric cable previously located within the parade ring has now been removed and disconnected. And Newbury racecourse and Southern Electric Power Distribution have assured the BHA that the area is safe to be used.

    Stephen Higgins, joint managing director of Newbury racecourse added: “The investigation by Southern Electric Power Distribution continues, to establish the cause of the electrical leakage. I would like to stress again that Southern Electric has confirmed that there was no danger to the public on Saturday.

    “Once again we would like to extend our condolences to the connections of those horses and will continue to liaise with those affected.”

    A wider review is still ongoing and a report will be published at a later date.

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