NEWBURY, England — An investigation has been launched at Newbury racecourse in southeast England after two horses dropped dead in the parade ring, Sky News reported Saturday.
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The animals, Fenix Two and Marching Song, both started to wobble and then collapsed in front of punters before the first race.
Early reports indicated the horses died from an electric shock, but a post-mortem will be carried out.
Other horses were seen to be in distress at the parade ring and many people there said they felt a tingling sensation in the area near where the horses died.
Newbury Racecourse’s managing director Stephen Higgins told Sky News: "We’ve had the local electricity board here establishing whether there is a cable there and whether it’s been disturbed, if there is a cable there it’s been dormant for more than 30 years and we need to establish those facts."
No new work has taken place at the racecourse recently and investigators have been working to establish exactly what caused the distressing incident.
Racing was immediately abandoned for the day after the deaths.
Former champion jockey Graham Thorner, part-owner of Marching Song, told Sky News: "One horse was behaving very strangely, and I thought, it’s just got overheated — as racehorses do. Then mine started to behave most extraordinary. I couldn’t work out why. So I told my lad to move on, keep them going.
"He went 50 yards [meters] and [the horse] did exactly the same thing. [He started] kicking out. Then he went down and I thought, oh my God he’s having a heart attack."
Jonjo O’Neill, trainer of Fenix Two, was quoted as saying: "It was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen in my life."
Thady Voorspuy was one of those near the parade ring at the time: "I saw it happen it wasn’t a pretty sight to be honest and I’m a qualified vet and have seen a lot of horses die in my time, but it was a very strange sight."
Professor Tim Morris, director of equine science and welfare for the British Horseracing Authority, said: "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."