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Back in the saddle as racing gets the go-ahead to resume

14 February, 2019, 04:55 | Author: Heidi Alvarez
  • 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

Racing at Fontwell Park will go ahead as planned on Thursday after the British Horseracing Authority announced a ban on the sport following an outbreak of equine flu was lifted.

Fears there might be an extended suspension, and a possible impact on next month's Cheltenham Festival - one of the showpiece events of the British racing calendar - intensified when a second outbreak, involving four vaccinated horses, was confirmed at the yard of trainer Simon Crisford in Newmarket, eastern England, on Sunday.

"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 risky to horses as say, for example herpes or strangles, it's contagious nature meant it was like a bushfire".

Dunshea said analysis of "thousands of samples, and no further positive tests on Monday", led the BHA to conclude that the outbreak was confined to two sites, around which "robust containment measures" have been established.

This decision will be made following a meeting of the industry veterinary committee.

The ruling body quickly enforced a six-day shutdown of racing in Britain, but the IHRB confirmed racing would continue in Ireland - with all runners from Britain not be permitted to race until further notice.

The horses that tested positive on Wednesday had been vaccinated - which is mandatory for nearly all breeds used in racing - prompting fears of a widespread outbreak of a mutant strain of the disease.

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The BHA issued a statement shortly before midnight GMT Monday in which it explained how racing would resume but "only with strict bio-security controls in place". We are working with the Thoroughbred Breeders Association and wider Newmarket community to attempt to contain the issue'. Fortunately, owing to the tireless efforts of the Animal Health Trust, trainers and their local vets, and BHA staff, the vast majority of yards which had been placed on hold will be in a position to resume racing. Obviously, by definition, they will only be coming from yards which aren't under restriction from the BHA.

Should the decision be taken to return to racing tomorrow, declarations for any fixtures staged will be this morning.

Menzies' horses have subsequently returned negative results for equine flu, while Crisford confirmed his Newcastle runner, Sajanjl, is also clear of the virus.

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

Trainers planning to compete on Wednesday were advised by the BHA to declare at 10am on Tuesday.

Equine influenza produces symptoms similar to the human flu, including a cough and high temperature.

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