Sunday, 25 August, 2019

Equine flu: Horse racing to resume after outbreak causes shutdown

Clerk of Ludlow Racecourse Simon Sherwood said a deep clean is under way   Racing at Ludlow has been suspended   Hunting has been hit by the outbreak Clerk of Ludlow Racecourse Simon Sherwood said a deep clean is under way Racing at Ludlow has been suspended Hunting has been hit by the outbreak
Cary Erickson | 14 February, 2019, 04:53

The BHA said: "The British Horseracing Authority has tonight announced a risk-managed return to racing will take place from Wednesday this week".

The news comes after the BHA reported on Sunday that no fresh cases of flu had been found.

All British racing was put on hold last Thursday after the flu outbreak, which affected horses at Donald McCain's yard.

The number of cases at this stable has now risen to six.

Two scheduled Jump fixtures will go ahead at Musselburgh and Plumpton, alongside the All Weather fixtures at Southwell and Kempton.

"What was interesting was that David Sykes, who is the chief vet here, and his line was the although equine flu wouldn't be as unsafe to horses as say, for example herpes or strangles, it's contagious nature meant it was like a bushfire".

While the BHA's regulatory officer Brant Dunshea admitted there were some risks associated with returning to racing, those risks had been assessed and deemed acceptable as long as biosecurity measures are employed.

"It has also been our intention to ensure that we avoid an issue that could result in a longterm disruption to racing with the risk of many of our major events being unduly impacted".

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A total of 174 racing stables were placed in lockdown, while thousands of horses were tested for the virus.

A statement read: "Analysis is ongoing at the AHT, in line with a prioritisation plan based on the potential exposure of horses to a horse that has tested positive (for example at the fixture at Ayr on February 6), or to a horse from a yard returning a positive test". However, the BHA said racing would only resume with "strict biosecurity controls in place". We have put robust containment measures in place around both.

"There have been significant logistical issues associated with testing and processing so many tests in such a short space of time", he said.

The prospect of racing returning quickly has divided the sport and while there was some optimism after the positive results from the weekend, realistically many are expecting the ban to be extended.

"The critical thing is they have to have had the correct vaccination within the eight weeks preceding the run".

Trainers with runners for Wednesday are advised to declare at 10 a.m., after which the BHA will review all declarations to ensure none have been declared that do not meet the risk criteria.

"The BEF continues to urge horse owners to be vigilant for symptoms of equine flu - coughing, nasal discharge, loss of appetite, lethargy - and call their vet if they think their horses are showing signs".

Media reports have estimated that the overall costs to racing will be in the region between £150m to £200m, with racing fixtures such as the Super Saturday at Newbury expected to cost bookmakers up to £2m a day.