All racing and point-to-point fixtures have been abandoned until at least Wednesday (13 February) due to the equine flu outbreak.
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) will make a decision on Monday as to whether racing can resume on Wednesday, but all meetings are off between now and Tuesday.
“The BHA’s veterinary team has today 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,” said a statement this afternoon (7 February).
“While no further positive tests have been received, at least three more days are required before it will be possible to make a decision about whether it is safe to resume racing.”
The BHA spokesman added the disease can take up to three days before signs are visible, meaning it will be Sunday at the earliest before the organisation will have all the information it needs to make a decision.
“This approach will allow samples to be collected and assessed by the Animal Health Trust in order that a fully informed decision can be made on Monday,” he added.
“This may then allow declarations to take place on Tuesday in time for racing on Wednesday, with 24-hour declarations for all fixtures on this day, should racing be able to resume. Declarations for Thursday would revert to the usual procedures.”
All racing was abandoned today after three horses at a racing yard tested positive for the virus. The trainer had runners at Ludlow and Ayr yesterday (Wednesday, 6 February).
“We are grateful to trainers and veterinarians for the rapid flow of information and feedback we have received today,” said the BHA spokesman.
“Because of this, we have been able to make an informed decision earlier than we expected and before we have any test results back from horses from the affected yards that travelled to the three meetings.
“Trainers support a precautionary approach and we thank them for the collaborative manner in which they have worked with us to address this unfolding situation.”
He said the precautionary approach is intended to ensure horses’ health and the control of the virus are put first, avoiding unnecessary risks that might come from returning to racing too quickly.
“We appreciate the impact that this may have on the sport commercially, but disease control in order to mitigate the risk of further disruption to the sport — and safeguard the health and welfare of our horses — must be a priority,” he added.
“A plan will be constructed for the rescheduling of key races – and those which may provide important opportunities for horses to run – which are lost during this period.
“Separately, as a precaution, all of the trainers who had runners at the fixtures at Wolverhampton, Ludlow and Ayr this week have been informed that their yards have been placed under a temporary hold which means that they will not be able to make any declarations until their horses have been tested and cleared.”
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In a statement this morning, the British Equestrian Federation said it is “closely monitoring the situation”, adding: “Veterinary experts have advised that it is not necessary to cancel other equine events at this time, but we will issue a further update once the full extent of the outbreak is known.”
An update from the BEF on Thursday evening added it “can confirm that our veterinary advice remains that it is not necessary to cancel other equine events at this time.”
“However we will continue to monitor the situation closely and will issue further updates once the full extent of this outbreak is known,” said the statement.
“We again urge all owners to be vigilant and follow the guidelines set out in our previous statement as a precaution. We recommend owners seek veterinary advice if necessary and ensure that all vaccinations are up to date.”
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