Two racehorses electrocuted in parade ring

Newbury meeting abandoned after hurdlers collapse and die

A day at the races ended in horror yesterday as two horses were electrocuted and died just feet from a packed crowd in one of the most grimly bizarre incidents ever witnessed at a racecourse. At Newbury, Berkshire, the hurdlers Fenix Two and Marching Song were being led unmounted round the parade ring before the first race when, without warning, they staggered and began to prance grotesquely, before collapsing within yards of each other on the grass infield of the paddock.

Both were dead within minutes. An investigation into the deaths is under way, but cables run under the area where the accident took place and it seems likely that it was caused by a freak electric shock to which horses, with their metal shoes, would be particularly susceptible.

The racecourse's managing director Stephen Higgins said: "It seems to be possible that the two horses that unfortunately died had steel shoes on, and the two that were okay had aluminium plates on, so there's a distinct possibility that the conductivity of the electricity has affected the horses but not the humans working with them."

Another horse, Kid Cassidy, showed the same symptoms to a lesser degree as those killed but recovered his composure when he was led off the grass on to a rubberised walkway.

None of the handlers involved was hurt, though several reported feeling mild electrical charges as they removed bridles from the stricken animals. Other horses were said to have suffered minor burns next to the metal bits in their mouths. Racing was abandoned on safety grounds after the first race was run.

Mr Higgins added: "We've looked at drawings that are 40 years old, and we've established that before the 1992 grandstand was constructed there was a cable potentially in that location. We've done some routine maintenance earlier in the week which we do before every race meeting... Whether or not that's disturbed something in the ground we're not sure yet, and it would be speculation to guess, but that looks like a distinct possibility."

The British Horseracing Authority is to carry out an investigation, including post-mortem examinations on the two dead animals. Investigators from Southern Electric were last night carrying out tests in the Newbury parade ring.

Kid Cassidy, ridden by Tony McCoy, was withdrawn from the race.Trainer, Nicky Henderson said: "Although his heartbeat was checked and was normal, there was no way I was going to run him." A fourth horse which was affected, The Merry Giant, took part in the race, finished last, and was later reported to be "badly traumatised".

Like Kid Cassidy, Fenix Two carried the Grand National-winning colours of the millionaire Irish businessman J P McManus.

Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins win the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Davidson performs his comedy show at Edinburgh Festival 2014
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Buyer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This award winning IT company are currently re...

Recruitment Genius: IT Account Manager

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineers

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineers

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor