British Horse Racing Cleared for Return

| February 17, 2019
Equine influenza causes temporary suspension of British horseracing

In an unusual and not often seen move, horse racing in Britain was suspended last week amid fears of an outbreak of equine flu. On the 7th of February, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) made the decision to suspend races until further notice. In all 23 meetings did not go ahead and this was in the wake of positive testing for the equine flu various at the Cheshire yard belonging to Donald McCain. catches up with the latest news from the horse racing world.

There were initially six horses confirmed to be sick with the virus at his stables and fears were building that this would become a national outbreak after four more horses also contracted equine flu this time at the Newmarket stables of Simon Crisford. Usually not a problem there were other reports of odd horses from various locations in the country and the ban remained in place. 

However, it has now been confirmed that racing will recommence on the 13th of February with meetings being held at Kempton, Musselburgh, Plumpton and Southwell but with a series of special measures that have been imposed by the BHA. They have stood by their decision despite public outcry that there are more serious conditions that happen every day and there is nothing in place to protect the horse. Nick Rust who is the chief executive at the BHA confirmed that in his opinion the suspension was entirely justified and vital as they needed to get a clear view of what was happening. This is, of course, easier with horses restricted to yards and not travelling or coming into contact. He said:

‘The decision last week was taken with a set of circumstances that suggested to us that we should lock down racing for several days so we could have a clear picture of the circumstances around the outbreak. There is an unprecedented level of equine flu at the moment, that was one of the considerations. We were concerned about the threat of this and the impact and disruption it would have on racing in the longer term if we didn’t understand it fully.’

For now, the organisation has decreed that no horses can be entered or declared unless they have been vaccinated in the last six months. Evidence will be required in the form of vet certificates before the horses are cleared to attend. This has caused a mixed reaction with some people seeing it as a minor inconvenience, with others needed to take remedial action with vaccinations immediately in order to keep racing. 

The problem has not been without outrage over the amount of money that this has caused and not just to the industry. Earlier in the week Keith Otteson, the clerk of the course at Newbury racecourse made bold claims that the problem relating to equine flu and the subsequent races ban has cost millions of pounds to the UK economy, with several thousand tests being carried out and income lost from the 23 meetings which would have been attended by paying spectators. 

Category: Racing

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