By Gemma Stroyan
Despite the deaths of 4 horses last week, Musselburgh Racecourse is open for the Christmas Jumps Meeting fixture today after the British Horseracing Authority’s inspection determined the course to be in good working condition.
News spread across the horse racing community last Monday as four horses lost their lives on the East Lothian track. This resulted in the BHA – the racing governing body – carrying out official investigations of the course on Friday, as concerns from animal charities were sparked and questions raised.
The deaths of Smart Ruler, Leather Belly, Sierra Oscar and Kensukes Kingdom, who was the winner of an earlier race but was destroyed later after becoming badly lame, came as a shock to the racing community and spectators alike.
Smart Ruler was said to suddenly drop away from other runners and collapse. Sierra Oscar was destroyed after suffering a broken leg and Leather Belly fell at the last bend of his second race.
The general manager of the racecourse, Bill Farnsworth said at the time: “Our thoughts are with the owners, trainers and stable staff of these horses”.
He stated that the conditions were ideal for racing but until they had further information they could not speculate on the events.
Following news of the inspection revealing no issues with track conditions and lay-out, Farnsworth added: “The sad deaths of four horses at one race meeting was, we believe, a unique but unfortunate coincidence and not a reflection on the racing conditions on that day, or of the precautions and procedures we follow at every race meeting staged at Musselburgh.
“We understand the concerns of the racing industry and general public following such an unusual chain of events, however, we were confident that the deaths were not related to track conditions.”
Trainer of horse Smart Ruler, Jimmy Moffat, said that he did not have a problem with the course and having walked it before the race, felt it was in good condition.
Farnsworth said: “We were heartened to have the support of those closest to the incidents, the trainers and the owners of the horses involved, and we extend our condolences to them at this sad time.”
Nick Rust, Chief Executive of BHA, stated: “The British Horse Racing industry is unified in its commitment to the welfare of our animals and we strive for the highest standards.”