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Electrocution blamed for horse deaths on
Newbury Totesport Trophy day
Greg Wood
• Post-mortems reveal cause of paddock drama
• Course given all-clear for rescheduled meeting

Post-mortem examination of two horses that collapsed and died in the paddock at Newbury racecourse last Saturday has confirmed that both were the victims of accidental electrocution. As a result, the course has now received formal clearance from the British Horseracing Authority to stage the rescheduled Totesport Trophy card on Friday.

Tim Morris, the BHA's director of equine science and welfare, said on Thursday that the results of the post mortems on Fenix Two and Marching Song, who died while parading before the first race on Saturday, were "all consistent with the cause of death being accidental electrocution". He added: "At this stage we are not investigating any other cause of death."

A length of cable has been disconnected and removed from the area where the incident occurred, and Southern Electric, which supplies power to Newbury, has assured the track that the paddock is now safe for both horses and their handlers. The company has also tested other cables at the course, and is satisfied that all are operating to required safety standards. A BHA investigation into the deaths is continuing, and the results will be published at a later date.

"The post-mortem results indicate accidental electrocution as the cause of death of the two horses, within the parade ring area," Stephen Higgins, the managing director of Newbury racecourse, said.

"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.

"Further to the BHA's statement, we are pleased that racing has been authorised for Friday. Once again we would like to extend our condolences to the connections of those horses and will continue to liaise with those affected."

Despite the sudden death of the two horses, Newbury's first race took place about 25 minutes later than planned, but the remainder of the meeting was abandoned shortly afterwards. The Merry Giant, who was also affected by the electrical leakage, took part in the race but finished sixth of the seven runners. "He seems absolutely fine now," Rebecca Curtis, his trainer, said on Thursday.