The racehorse Kid Cassidy was withdrawn by his trainer after also buckling in the paddock [GALLO/GETTY]

Two horses died suddenly in the parade ring before a top race in England as their handlers and spectators looked on.

Racing at Newbury was abandoned on Saturday after the horses, Fenix Two and Marching Song, fell to the ground and died.

Former champion jumps jockey John Francome told Channel 4 Racing: "Three lads involved looking after the first horse that came down said they got a pulsing feeling coming through the horse. It seems it was something electrical."

Andy Turnell, the trainer of Marching Song, told sportinglife.com: "It looks like they've been electrocuted.

"My fellow (Marching Song) seemed perfectly all right and I was about to leg him up but he just went straight down."

Fellow trainer Jonjo O'Neill said: "It was the weirdest thing I've ever seen in my life."

The racecourse later announced that the remainder of the day's racing had been abandoned as a precaution.

"It all happened in exactly the same spot in the parade ring. Whether there is a (electric) line through there I've no idea but I'm sure someone is going to tell us"

Nicky Henderson, trainer

"This is a very sad day and our thoughts are with all the connections of the two horses who died," joint-managing director Stephen Higgins said in a statement.

"Whilst the causes of this incident are still unknown, for safety reasons we unfortunately had to abandon as our only course of action."

Distressed

Grooms reportedly said that other horses who became distressed in the parade ring were later found to have burn marks around the metallic bits in their mouths.

Commentators said several horses were affected, becoming distressed and screaming.

A regional BBC commentator described it as an "awful scene".

Former champion trainer Nicky Henderson withdrew his runner Kid Cassidy.

The horse had also buckled in the paddock but recovered and went to the start where the runners were all checked out.
 
Kid Cassidy was said to be fine but Henderson thought the horse "desperately keen" and withdrew him.

Henderson told BBC Radio 5: "It all happened in exactly the same spot in the parade ring. It was all at one end when the horses went on the grass and as you know horses have metal shoes and they puncture into the ground.

"Whether there is a (electric) line through there I've no idea but I'm sure someone is going to tell us.

"But I know it has been mentioned that when they were taking the saddles off the horses they were getting shocks off them."

The first race was run but the remaining six called off.

Source: Agencies