AN investigation is underway after three horses had to be destroyed and another was seriously injured during a day's racing at Ludlow Racecourse earlier this month.

The British Horseracing Authority is currently looking into the fatalities which occurred during three separate races at Ludlow on February 6.

Three horses broke a leg and a fourth was treated at a equine hospital. Terminal Bee, a five-year-old gelding, was the first to fall after breaking a fetlock during the opening hurdle race - though it is thought the injury could have occurred prior to the event.

Seven-year-old Port of Morgan, broke a leg at the 12th fence in the Beginners' Chase and six-year-old Desert Inferno was pulled up having broken a hind leg, and subsequently destroyed.

The fourth horse, Earth Man, was injured and has received treatment at a equine hospital. A spokesperson for trainer, Paul Nicholls, said that Earth Man is expected to make a full recovery.

BHA spokesman Owen Byrne said: "We are carrying out a review of the fatalities at Ludlow, as we do on any occasion where there are multiple fatalities on one day or at the same meeting.

"This includes a routine review of the horse's racecourse veterinary record and career profile, feedback from the relevant inspector of courses, clerk of course and the veterinary officer on duty on the day. This enables us to assess whether there were any common factors among the incidents that can be addressed."

Dene Stansall, horse racing correspondent for Tonbridge-based organisation Animal Aid, said: "I have monitored the course for a number of years now and the information is taken from Raceform, publishers of the official form book and the Racing Post.

He said there were 142 fatalities this season, four of which took place at Ludlow. The fourth death occurred last November.

Fiona Pereira, campaigner for Animal Aid said it conducted a survey of Thoroughbred deaths on British racecourses between 2000-2004. Of the 59 courses, Ludlow witnessed 13 deaths in 49 days of racing.

This equates to 26 deaths per 100 days of racing - making Ludlow the sixth most dangerous racecourse in the country."

Ludlow clerk of the course Bob Davies said it would be premature to judge the safety of the track based on one day's racing and that they did everything possible to minimise the risk to horses.

"I think it is a high risk sport and there are always going to be injuries. Very often there is no logical reason why or when they occur - you can go for several meetings and then you have three injuries at once.

Research carried out by Liverpool University showed that 90% of stress fracture injuries occurred prior to the incident, he added.

He said that in this case the injuries occurred in separate races and different areas. "The main thing is to make sure that there are no constant injuries at the same place on the course."