Tuesday 16 January 2018

Electricity cable key to probe into horse deaths at Newbury

Chris McGrath

it is the coldest comfort imaginable, but the community shaken by the macabre events at Newbury on Saturday could not be better equipped to place them in due perspective.

The week had begun, after all, with the harrowing news that Jack Tyner, a promising young jockey, had died as a result of head injuries sustained in a point-to-point fall in Co Waterford. Once Newbury had abandoned the rest of its card, Leopardstown and Warwick could only fill the void with a merciless new challenge, in the deaths of three talented steeplechasers.

In the circumstances, the repellent scenes in the parade ring at Newbury -- where two horses dropped dead before the first race, apparently convulsed by electricity -- should leave a scar only on the sport's memory, and not on its conscience.

It may or may not prove that someone made a misjudgment that could even warrant the attention of negligence lawyers. Yesterday a section of power cable was dug up from beneath the paddock, and taken away for examination. There are suggestions that it had been plugged during construction of a new stand, some 20 years ago.

It was with due bewilderment that Nicky Henderson yesterday reflected on the reprieve of Kid Cassidy, which had briefly collapsed on his hind-legs but managed to get off the grass.

"I think our horse was extremely lucky," the trainer said. "He was lucky enough to get back on the rubber walkway, and actually had a different type of shoe on to the other horses. It was horrific -- something none of us had ever seen before, and we hope never to see again, the most traumatic five minutes I think one can ever go through. This game we're in is all about horses, and everybody loves horses."

Henderson withdrew Kid Cassidy, but The Merry Giant was allowed to take his chance after a similar wobble and was said to be "badly traumatised" afterwards. His trainer Rebecca Curtis had better news yesterday.

"The vet checked him down at the start and said he was fine. But obviously if we'd known about the electricity problem, we wouldn't have run," Curtis said. "He seems fine this morning, and that's the main thing. The concern would be when he goes back to the races and into the parade ring, he might remember what happened."

Assuming that Newbury and the regulators are together satisfied that the problem has been both identified and remedied, they are expected to reschedule the meeting today -- most probably for Wednesday or Sunday.

There will be no second chance, however, for Kilmurry, which was challenging Finian's Rainbow when breaking down at Warwick; or two old favourites in Glencove Marina and Money Trix, which collapsed and had to put down after the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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