FOUR horses died at Musselburgh Racecourse's race meeting yesterday (Monday).

The racecourse says it will assist the British Horseracing Authority's investigation into the deaths, adding that conditions on the day were "ideal for racing".

The winner of the first race, Kensukes Kingdom, was badly lame at the finish and was subsequently destroyed.

Later in the afternoon, Smart Ruler, a 12 year-old chestnut gelding, was seen to suddenly drop away from the other runners and wobble as he came to a halt. He then collapsed on the course and died.

In the next race, six-year-old gelding Sierra Oscar was seen to pull up with a broken leg. Shortly after the race was over, Sierra Oscar was destroyed.

Two races on, five-year-old Leather Belly was running on the final bend of the race when he too looked to break a leg and was also later destroyed.

Bill Farnsworth, Musselburgh Racecourse general manager, said: “Our thoughts are with the owners, trainers and stable staff of these horses.

"The ground conditions and weather at Musselburgh Racecourse on December 3 were ideal for racing but until we have further information it would be wrong to speculate as to the cause of these tragic incidents.

“We will work closely with the British Horseracing Authority and assist their investigation to establish what happened and to ensure that Musselburgh continues to adopt best practice for all participants in racing.”

Animal rights organisation Animal Aid said that in the 11 years it had recorded race horse deaths, only twice before had this many horses died on a single day at an individual racecourse.