Outbreak of potentially fatal HORSE FLU causes all racing to be cancelled today across Britain and Ireland for the first time since 2001
- All racing at British racecourses has been cancelled on Thursday due to flu
- An equine influenza outbreak means all races are off for first time since 2001
- The call has been made by the British Horseracing Authority to stop it spreading
All of Thursday’s racing at British racecourses was cancelled late on Wednesday night because of an outbreak of equine influenza, the first time such drastic action has been taken since the foot and mouth crisis in 2001.
Three horses in an active racing yard tested positive for the highly contagious disease, and the British Horseracing Authority took the extreme measure to call off meetings at four UK tracks in a bid to prevent it spreading further.
The BHA said horses from the affected yard had raced on Wednesday at Ayr and Ludlow, which raised the potential for several yards across the country and in Ireland to have become infected.
All racing across Britain on Thursday has been called off due to an equine influenza outbreak
‘The fact that the cases have been identified in vaccinated horses presents a cause for significant concern over welfare and the potential spread of the disease and the action to cancel racing has been viewed as necessary in order to restrict, as far as possible, the risk of further spread of the disease,’ the BHA said in a statement.
The BHA said they had the unanimous backing of their industry veterinary committee to cancel racing on Thursday, which was due to take place at Huntingdon, Doncaster, Ffos Las and Chelmsford.
It is the first time since the foot-and-mouth outbreak in 2001 — when the Cheltenham Festival was called off — that the authorities have had to cancel all racing on a day owing to an animal disease. It is often abandoned because of severe weather.
This case is particularly worrying given that the horses that tested positive had been vaccinated.
With Betfair Super Saturday at Newbury this weekend, and the Cheltenham Festival only a few weeks away, the racing world will be keen to ensure that the impact of this equine influenza outbreak is kept to a minimum.
Angel’s Breath, a strong fancy for next month’s Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, was due to run at Huntingdon.
Racing on Thursday was due to take place at Huntingdon, Doncaster, Ffos Las and Chelmsford
A BHA added: ‘The British Horseracing Authority (BHA), with unanimous support of the BHA’s industry veterinary committee, has taken the decision to cancel racing at all British racecourses on Thursday 7 February 2019. This is following the BHA being informed this evening by the Animal Health Trust of three confirmed Equine Influenza positives from vaccinated horses in an active racing yard.’
It continued: ‘The BHA has worked quickly to identify which yards could have potentially been exposed today and identify the further actions required. The BHA is presently communicating with yards potentially exposed to ensure appropriate quarantine and biosecurity measures are put in place and horse movements restricted to avoid possible further spread of the disease.
‘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.
The unanimous decision was made to stop the flu outbreak spreading to other race horses
‘The BHA is working closely with the Animal Health Trust and will issue a further update tomorrow. We recommend that any trainer who has concerns about the health status of any of their horses should contact their veterinarian.’
Angel’s Breath was to have the chance to justify his position as favourite for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle when he lined up in the Sydney Banks Novices’ Hurdle at Huntingdon.
The Nicky Henderson-trained grey is 5-1 market leader for the opening race of the Festival next month but he still has plenty to prove. It is not sure when they will now get that chance.
Nico de Boinville’s mount was a useful-looking winner of the Grade Two Kennel Gate Novices’ Hurdle at Ascot in December, but an issue with the hurdles meant only four obstacles were jumped.