Equine flu brings horse racing world to standstill

The British Horseracing Authority has banned all races in the UK after an outbreak of equine influenza.

The ban has effected Musselburgh Races, which was set to host a fixture on Sunday with eight races and a £160,000 prize – the biggest ever prize pot at The Races.

Musselburgh Racecourse general manager, Bill Farnsworth, said:

“We are naturally disappointed at losing our richest jumps racing fixture this weekend (Sunday 10 Feb) but the racing community is working together to minimise the spread of equine influenza and the decision by the BHA to cancel racing is without doubt the correct one.

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The £160,000 prize fixture will not be going ahead on Sunday. (Credit: Ryan Traynor)

“The industry does prepare for scenarios such as these and I am confident that the stringent procedures which are in place across the UK will ensure that racing is back and up running as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Vaccinated horses typically have mild short lasting symptoms, but this new strain is effecting vaccinated animals. The BHA said that the disease was typically not serious:

“Symptoms may include a raised temperature, a cough and nasal discharge. It is highly contagious. Humans are not at risk from the virus, though can spread the virus on clothes and equipment.”

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All the horses are in quarantine and the stables are deserted. (Credit: Ryan Traynor)

“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.”

Symptoms typically take three days to appear which means that the full extent of the problem won’t be known until Sunday.

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The prestigious race course will lose betting revenue because of the cancellation of Sunday’s event. The BHA say they are sympathetic, but must impose the ban. (Credit: Ryan Traynor)

Bill Farnsworth hoped that the disruption to Musselburgh would be minimal:

“A decision will be taken on Monday by the BHA as to when racing will resume, and if our next meeting scheduled for Wednesday (13 Feb) goes ahead as planned, there will be free admission for all.”

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The disease is airborne, but not harmful to humans. (Credit: Ryan Traynor)

The BHA only makes decisions on race horses but encourages all horse owners to seek professional advice and to get their horses vaccinated if they have concerns.

 

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