An investigation has been launched after four horses died in a single meeting at Musselburgh racecourse in Scotland on Monday.
- Racecourse manager said incidents result of "perfect storm"
- This year's Melbourne Cup was marred by the death of The CliffsofMoher
- Jumps racing is banned in Australia, except for Victoria and South Australia, but it remains popular in the UK
Four of the 44 horses that raced at the meeting died, prompting an inquiry to be launched by the British Horse Racing Authority (BHA), although officials do not believe course conditions were to blame.
Musselburgh racecourse manager Bill Farnsworth said the incidents were a result of a "perfect storm".
"It's a very rare occurrence," Mr Farnsworth told the BBC.
"All the deaths are unrelated and I think it is just one of those perfect-storm situations."
The four horses that died were Kensukes Kingdom, Sierra Oscar, Leather Belly and Smart Ruler.
The average fatality rate for horses in British races is 0.2 per cent of runners, according to BHA statistics. Monday's fatality rate at the course was 9.09 per cent.
"The incidents at Musselburgh were extremely distressing for everyone involved," the BHA said in a statement.
"Work will now be undertaken to identify if there are any risk factors at the course or with the horses that might have contributed to these incidents. The BHA's inspector of courses will be visiting Musselburgh in the coming days to carry out a full inspection.
Kensukes Kingdom was euthanased after suffering a tendon injury and pulling up lame after passing the finishing post. It was the horse's first run over hurdles.
Sierra Oscar and Leather Belly both suffered leg injuries in the middle of their races, although Leather Belly broke down during a "bumper" race, that is not run over hurdles.
Smart Ruler collapsed in the latter stages of his race, with trainer Jimmy Moffat suggesting, in an interview with The Guardian, the horse suffered a heart attack.
At this year's Melbourne Cup, Irish horse The Cliffsofmoher was euthanased after breaking its shoulder in the early stages of the race.
That prompted a furious reaction from animal rights groups, who called for horse racing as a whole to be banned.
"This was an unfortunate incident that happens infrequently, with Victoria having one of the best safety records in world racing," a Racing Victoria statement read.
"Our sympathies are extended to Coolmore and the Williams family, the owners of The Cliffsofmoher, jockey Ryan Moore, trainer Aidan O'Brien and his staff, who cared for the horse and are greatly saddened by their loss."
The Cliffsofmoher was the latest horse to have died on Melbourne Cup day in recent years, joining Verema (euthanased on track in 2013), Admire Rakti (suffered a heart attack in his stall in 2014), Araldo (euthanased after breaking his leg post-race in 2014), Red Cadeaux (euthanased two weeks after falling in 2015) and Regal Monarch (euthanased after a fall in Race Four of 2017).
National hunt racing a UK obsession
Despite being banned in a number of states in Australia, national hunt racing is still hugely popular in the United Kingdom and Ireland, with numerous races held around the year, culminating with the Cheltenham Festival in March, attended by more than 250,000 punters across the four days.
The BHA is expected to release, in the coming weeks, its findings into a review of last March's Cheltenham Festival, in which six horses died.
In Australia, on average over the past nine years, five horses have died annually in jumps racing in South Australia and Victoria, which are the last two states where the sport is legal.
In 1991, a senate-selected committee concluded the sport should be phased out over three years, and while it acknowledged some changes could improve safety, it found there was a "significant probability of a horse suffering serious injury or even death" by participating in a jumps race.
By the end of the decade, the sport was banned in Queensland and New South Wales (although only exhibition events had been staged in NSW in the decades leading up to the ban), while Tasmania ceased jumps racing due to it being "economically not viable" in 2007.