Equine flu: Horse racing to resume following outbreak

February 11, 2019

Horse racing in Britain will resume on Wednesday following a six-day shutdown because of an outbreak of equine flu.

The British Horseracing Authority says racing will begin again with four meetings on Wednesday.

The sport has been on hold since last Thursday after the highly contagious virus was identified in six horses at the yard of Grand National-winning trainer Donald McCain in Cheshire.

After consultation with its veterinary committee, and based on the latest tests conducted by the Animal Health Trust, the BHA's chief regulatory officer Brant Dunshea confirmed racing could resume with strict biosecurity controls in place.

This decision to return racing in a "controlled, risk-managed manner" was unanimously supported by the industry veterinary committee.

Mr Dunshea says "after analysis of thousands of samples" and no positive tests on Monday, the disease is now contained. Although there are still two confirmed sites of infection, they are "contained at present".

He added: "Clearly, there is some risk associated with returning to racing. This risk has been assessed and, based on the evidence - and ensuring biosecurity measures are in place - the level of risk is viewed as acceptable."

Two scheduled Jump fixtures will go ahead at Musselburgh and Plumpton on Wednesday, as well as the all-weather fixtures at Southwell and Kempton.

The BHA's director of equine health and welfare, David Sykes, said: "The BHA and the veterinary committee agree that, on balance, the level of risk is acceptable for a return to racing.

"We have developed a risk model, which the veterinary committee support, in order to assist the return to racing.

"We will observe closely those horses who are taken to the racecourse and will intervene as a precaution to prevent a horse running or accessing a racecourse if we believe it might put other horses at risk of infection.

"The veterinary committee are of the view that an unprecedented amount of this disease has been identified in Europe. This is not a typical endemic period and it was essential that precautions be taken to protect the horse population."

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