Equine Influenza latest | BHA confirm "risk-managed" return to racing on Wednesday

BHA - issued equine flu update
BHA - issued equine flu update

Racing will resume in Britain on Wednesday, following a six-day shutdown because of the outbreak of equine influenza, the British Horseracing Authority has announced.

The ruling body had placed over 170 yards into lockdown in an attempt to halt the spread of the highly-contagious virus, with all meetings last Thursday cancelled the previous night.

However, following a period of extensive testing and after seeking the advice of a series of veterinary experts, the BHA gave the go-ahead for a resumption late on Monday - but with strict biosecurity controls in place.

The BHA's chief regulatory officer, Brant Dunshea, said: "Our approach since hearing about the first positive results last Wednesday has been based on accumulating as much information as we could as quickly as possible so we could properly understand the risks of this virulent strain of flu spreading to more horses.

"That would be harmful to them and damaging to any trainers' yards that became infected.

"It has also been our intention to ensure that we avoid an issue that could result in a long-term disruption to racing with the risk of many of our major events being unduly impacted."

The sport was rocked after it emerged three horses - which subsequently rose to six - were found to have the disease at Donald McCain's stable in Cheshire.

The BHA quickly enforced a cancellation of racing in Britain and confirmed a call would be made on Monday about whether scheduled fixtures at Southwell, Plumpton, Musselburgh and Kempton could take place on Wednesday.

Over the weekend it was announced around 1,500 tests had returned negative - but on Sunday evening it emerged four vaccinated horses from Simon Crisford's Newmarket yard had tested positive.

Dunshea said: "After analysis of thousands of samples, and no further positive tests on Monday, we still only have two confirmed sites of infection. We have put robust containment measures in place around both.

"From the testing and analysis conducted the disease appears to be contained at present. The BHA veterinary committee believe that the swift controls on movement that were put in place have clearly helped to restrict the spread of this virus."

While Dunshea admitted there was a risk associated with a return to racing, he was fulsome in his praise of the work of the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket who carried out the testing.

"There have been significant logistical issues associated with testing and processing so many tests in such a short space of time," he said.

"Fortunately, owing to the tireless efforts of the Animal Health Trust, trainers and their local vets, and BHA staff, the vast majority of yards which had been placed on hold will be in a position to resume racing.

"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."

As part of the controlled return, the BHA said it has "developed a risk framework which allows us to categorise individual trainers by the level of risk they have been exposed to.

"The ability of runners to return to racing from those yards will depend on the risk categories the yards are placed in.

"We are finalising overnight which category individual trainers will currently be placed in. The BHA will contact trainers tomorrow morning to inform them of their category and eligibility to run."

The Thursday card at Huntingdon was abandoned
The Thursday card at Huntingdon was abandoned

Major weekend cards are scheduled for Ascot, where the Betfair Ascot Chase is the feature, Haydock, which will host the William Hill Grand National Trial, and Wincanton, where the Betway Kingwell Hurdle is the headline attraction.

During the blank period some key races in the build up to the Cheltenham Festival should have been run and a handful have now been rescheduled.

Ascot is the main beneficiary and will stage a nine-race card on Saturday, with the addition of the Betfair Hurdle and Denman Chase which should have been at Newbury last weekend.

The Kingmaker Novices' Chase scheduled for Warwick will be at Sandown on Friday, while a Listed Mares' Hurdle from Warwick will be held at Haydock on Saturday and Wincanton's meeting picks up a Listed Mares' Chase from Exeter.

Speaking in a statement earlier in the day, Crisford said: "None of the four horses that have returned positive tests for equine influenza displayed any clinical signs of respiratory illness, including nasal discharge and elevated temperatures, prior to the mandatory swabbing that was undertaken last Friday, February 8.

"The swabbing occurred following Sajanjl's race at Newcastle last Tuesday, February 5, and she has tested negative. There is no obvious connection between Sajanjl and the four identified horses.

"All horses at Kremlin House Stables, totalling 92 boxes, undergo a strict vaccination check and programme on their arrival.

"All four identified horses have been vaccinated within the last six months along with the rest of the yard and in line with vaccination protocol."

Equine Influenza Timeline

An outbreak of equine influenza shocked racing to its core over the past six days - here is how it all unfolded...

11.30pm Wednesday, February 6 - The British Horseracing Authority issues a press release stating all racing in Britain on Thursday is cancelled because of three cases of equine flu found in a racing yard.

9am Thursday - The BHA provides an update, announcing widespread testing is being carried out and that a decision on Friday's racing will be made in the evening.

2.10pm Thursday - Donald McCain confirms in a statement he is the trainer at the centre of the outbreak.

4.10pm Thursday - The BHA announces there will be no racing in Britain until Wednesday at the earliest - and that a decision will be taken on Monday as to when the shutdown may end.

1pm Friday - Trainer James Tate, a qualified vet, is the first to announce his whole string has tested clear of the virus.

2.25pm Friday - News breaks that Raise A Spark, a McCain runner at Ayr on Wednesday, has tested positive - one of three more to do so at the yard.

6pm Friday - New guidelines are published in Ireland, where racing continues without British runners, that all horses must have been vaccinated within eight weeks of their race.

8pm Friday - Rebecca Menzies announces she has a horse with "suspicious" symptoms.

8am Saturday - Several leading trainers take to the papers, voicing their displeasure at the shutdown and calling it an over-reaction.

2.15pm Saturday - BHA reports no more new positives tests, and all those tested at the Menzies yard are clear.

4.35pm Sunday - Around 1,500 horses have been tested. All, apart from the six at McCain's stable, have returned negative samples.

10.40pm Sunday - The BHA reveals four horses at Simon Crisford's Newmarket yard have tested positive.

2pm Monday - Tests continue, with the scheduled announcement regarding the possible resumption of racing not expected until 10.30pm at the earliest.

4pm Monday - The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board announces the ban placed on British runners has been lifted.

4.20pm Monday - The BHA arranges a London press conference for 8am on Tuesday, with all the major players.

11.15pm Monday - Racing given the green light to resume on Wednesday by a veterinary committee.


GET THE FULL PICTURE: Don't miss out on FREE video replays and our fantastic My Stable tracker. Log in now and become a Sporting Life Insider.

Related horse racing links

Like what you've read?
Help your friends Know It All by sharing this article to your social media.

Most Read Racing

Mister Malarky is backed at 16/1 for the four miler1

Antepost Angle: Triumph and NH Chase

Matt Brocklebank's Antepost Angle returns with 16/1 tips for both the JCB Triumph Hurdle and the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Today's Racing Tips2

Newcastle racing preview and tips

Outrage is Keith Hamer's best bet at Newcastle on Monday night and he has a tip for every race.

Check out our latest racing Nap3

Daily Nap: Taunton treat

Following David Ord's four winners in a row, Richard Mann is feeling the heat as he heads to Taunton for Tuesday's best bet of the day.

4

Video: Nicky Henderson stable tour

Nicky Henderson gives Dave Ord the lowdown on Buveur D'Air, Altior and the rest of his stable's leading lights ahead of the Cheltenham Festival.

Nicky Henderson and Altior
5

'Machine' Altior pleases Henderson

Altior might not be quite the "showman" Sprinter Sacre was - but Nicky Henderson is feeling the weight of expectation as his charge prepares for his Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase crown defence.

Most Read Racing

Mister Malarky is backed at 16/1 for the four miler1

Antepost Angle: Triumph and NH Chase

Matt Brocklebank's Antepost Angle returns with 16/1 tips for both the JCB Triumph Hurdle and the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Today's Racing Tips2

Newcastle racing preview and tips

Outrage is Keith Hamer's best bet at Newcastle on Monday night and he has a tip for every race.

Check out our latest racing Nap3

Daily Nap: Taunton treat

Following David Ord's four winners in a row, Richard Mann is feeling the heat as he heads to Taunton for Tuesday's best bet of the day.

4

Video: Nicky Henderson stable tour

Nicky Henderson gives Dave Ord the lowdown on Buveur D'Air, Altior and the rest of his stable's leading lights ahead of the Cheltenham Festival.

Nicky Henderson and Altior
5

'Machine' Altior pleases Henderson

Altior might not be quite the "showman" Sprinter Sacre was - but Nicky Henderson is feeling the weight of expectation as his charge prepares for his Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase crown defence.

Next Race Off

18:07 Laval
6
(0)
First De Rougemont
J: Y Lebourgeois
11
(0)
Fakir Haufor
J: F Boudet
8
(0)
Faro Du Bonant
J: M Abrivard
7
(0)
Fratelli Bond
J: L Delanoe
3
(0)
Fakir Gascon
J: W Bigeon
13
(0)
Finger Des Bordes
J: D Dore
12
(0)
Facto Prior
J: S Desmarres
4
(0)
Flavio
J: E g Blot
10
(0)
Feeling Me
J: J Dubreil
5
(0)
Fiz De La Besvre
J: J F Senet
9
(0)
Fantastic Du Bourg
J: P Hornoy
1
(0)
Feeling Djob
J: M Fribault
2
(0)
Fabio Des Monts
J: Adrien Mignon

Racing Tips

Today's Racing Tips

Newcastle racing preview and tips

Outrage is Keith Hamer's best bet at Newcastle on Monday night and he has a tip for every race.

Mister Malarky is backed at 16/1 for the four miler

Antepost Angle: Triumph and NH Chase

Matt Brocklebank's Antepost Angle returns with 16/1 tips for both the JCB Triumph Hurdle and the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Check out our latest racing Nap

Daily Nap: Taunton treat

Following David Ord's four winners in a row, Richard Mann is feeling the heat as he heads to Taunton for Tuesday's best bet of the day.