Wednesday, 26 June, 2019

British racing cancelled because of flu

EI outbreak halts British racing UK racing cancelled over EI scare
Shannon Reynolds | 08 February, 2019, 08:56

An outbreak of equine flu has forced United Kingdom racing to be shut down until February 13, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced.

The BHA had put trainers on alert over the contagious disease after several outbreaks in northern Europe and sent out a letter to trainers recently.

Racing was called off at four venues on Thursday - Ffos Las, Huntingdon, Doncaster and Chelmsford - after three horses from Donald McCain's yard in Cheshire tested positive for the disease.

The BHA released a recent statement on the dangers posed by horse flu, noting how unsafe this strain is.

Whilst the infected horses had not been racing this week, McCain has had runners at Wolverhampton, Ayr and Ludlow.

Horse flu is an "enzootic" disease, meaning it is native to animals, and in this case doesn't spread beyond horses and closely related species such as mules and donkeys.

Symptoms include coughing, a high-fever, and nasal discharge. The BHA said on Thursday evening that its veterinary team "has been in contact with more than 50 trainers and veterinarians to allow it to make an informed assessment of the risk of equine influenza spreading".

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Racing in Britain will not resume until at least Wednesday, February 13 to minimise the risk of the spread of an outbreak of equine influenza. That means "a fully formed decision can be made on Monday" on whether races can be held on Wednesday.

The BHA have responded to public concerns by providing a Q&A on equine influenza, which can be read here.

In a statement issued through the National Trainers Federation, McCain said: "I have been aware of the recent news about equine influenza outbreaks in France and Ireland, and over the last couple of days, I have been concerned about the health status of a small number of horses in the yard".

"We know we're not going to be in a position, given the incubation period of the disease, to make a decision about returning to racing until first thing next week at the very earliest".

ITV Racing, which had been due to cover both Newbury's valuable meeting and significant races at Warwick this weekend, said it will instead show five races from Naas in Ireland.

"The situation here is not the same", the BHA said, adding Australian thoroughbreds aren't vaccinated against horse flu, while British horses are because the virus is endemic in the UK.

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