Five pacers have been killed in a fire at Leeton Racecourse in New South Wales this morning.
Two of the horses were owned by John Kefford, while three belonged to Phil Maguire.
While Maguire was too upset to comment today, his sister in law Del Cope told the media of the trainer’s anguish.
“The horses were everything to them,” Ms Cope said.
The horses that were lost in the fire are believed to have been race fit and in the mix to claim victory in the near future.
Gary Punch, who is the President of the Leeton Harness Racing Club, is deeply disturbed by the incident.
“It’s a bit mystifying, I think they’re worried as to whether or not any malpractice has been involved by anybody,” Punch said.
Veterinarian Brian Munro has been on site all day, along with another local vet, tending to those horses that were injured in the fire.
Three horses have suffered varying degrees of burns, with one suspected of having smoke inhalation.
“Burns assessments in animals are always difficult but they are likely to survive,” Dr Munro said.
“Standardbreds are a remarkably stoic – if it were thoroughbreds it might be a different story.
“If you want to choose a quiet horse, you choose a standardbred.”
A number of concerned owners began to arrive at Leeton racecourse this morning as soon as news of the fire broke around the area.
A spokesperson for NSW Fire and Rescue said the owners were desperate to see whether their horses were amongst the five dead.
There are a number of horse owners that heard about the fire and they arrived at the showgrounds obviously worried about their livestock,” he said.
Investigations are already underway to determine the cause of the fire.