They’re off: Racing shuts down over horse flu

EI outbreak halts British racing

A number of major bookmakers have come out in support of the British Racing Authority's (BHA) decision to suspend all horse racing meetings until next week due to an outbreak of equine influenza.

No further cases of equine flu have been reported since the McCain trio on Wednesday night and it won't affect the routines of any horses in yards without the virus.

Horses from that stable were in action at Ayr in Scotland and at Ludlow in Shropshire on Wednesday, as well as Wolverhampton on Monday, potentially exposing 100s of horses from Britain and Ireland.

In a statement, The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) said identification of the virus in vaccinated animals presented a "cause for significant concern".

"We haven't yet received the results from the samples that have been collected from the affected yard or any of the samples we've collected today from the potentially exposed horses from yesterday's fixtures".

"I don't want to tempt fate by saying there couldn't be some risk but I'm very confident that the action we're taking in co-operation with the whole of the industry will ensure that Cheltenham can be on".

With dozens of yards in lockdown it inevitably led to the abandonment of forthcoming meetings.

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Equine influenza, sometimes referred to as equine flu or horse flu, is a highly contagious respiratory infection.

"This precautionary approach is meant to ensure we put the health of the horse population and control of the virus first, and avoid any unnecessary risk that might come from returning to racing too quickly".

In 2001 the meeting was cancelled due to the foot and mouth crisis, but with over a month until this year's meeting there is hope a similar situation can be avoided.

Local racing is at Fairview while the coverage at Gloucester (Australia), Mauquenchy and Cagnes-Sur-Mer (France) and Aqueduct in the US has been amended to replace the four United Kingdom meetings that have been abandoned.

"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".

"The full extent of potential exposure is unknown and we are working quickly to understand as much as we can to assist our decision making". You get a high temperature, a nasal discharge and eventually you get coughing and the horses feel rough.

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