Punchestown three-day event scheduled to take place 17 – 20 May has been postponed due to the current foot and mouth restrictions.

This decision has also been influence by the fact that many riders would have difficulty in getting their horsesready for a CCI*** / CCI** in May, or obtaining the necessary qualifications.

Punchestown Racing Festival, one of the most prestigious dates in the racing calendar may also have to change their April date.

The Queen Mother’s planned visit to Sandown Park has been cancelled as part of the racecourse is waterlogged.

A section of the back bend at the Surrey course is flooded following heavy rain.

Course manager Steve Brice says the Grand Military Gold Cup National Hunt meeting will go ahead tomorrow,Friday 10 March, weather-permitting.

The Queen Mother would have had to walk over a disinfected mat and her limousine would been driven through disinfectant to help stop the spread of foot-and-mouth disease.

All eyes are now on Lambourn, Berkshire, the home of the country’s biggestNational Hunt training centre, where a suspected foot-and-mouth outbreak isbeing investigated on a nearby farm.

Should an outbreak be confirmed at Lambourn, the movement of horses could bebanned, throwing future race meetings into doubt.

Meanwhile, the European Commission has banned movements of livestock across the EU for two weeks in an emergency move to prevent the spread of foot and mouth disease.

Although no cases of foot and mouth have been confirmed on the continent, fears are growing that animals exported from Britain could have carried the disease into Europe.

The current measures will be reviewed at the next meeting of the Standing Veterinary Committee, which is scheduled for 20/21 March.

The Countryside Alliance has called on all organisers of events, likely toattract substantial numbers of rural people, to take the best possiblescientific advice on whether the events should go ahead.

In a statement issued today (7 March) it said: “If events occur,it should be incumbent on the event’s organisers to publicise fully all the precautions which should be taken to reduce the risk of foot and mouth contamination to an absolute minimum.”

It has also urged any rural people considering attending sporting or otherevents which might bring them into contact with other country men and womento only do so if unavoidable.