No British horse racing until Wednesday amid flu outbreak

Rex Christensen
February 8, 2019

All race meetings in Britain have been cancelled until next Wednesday at the earliest while the sport's governing body awaits test results from more than 100 horses which could have been exposed to equine influenza.

The British Horseracing Authority said that no new positive cases have been received since it announced early Thursday (NZT) that three vaccinated horses in an active racing yard had flu.

The BHA released a recent statement on the dangers posed by horse flu, noting how unsafe this strain is.

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.

Meanwhile, Donald McCain has confirmed that the three cases previously detailed came from his yard in Cheshire.

Horses that have contracted equine flu can develop a high fever, coughing, nasal discharge and sometimes swelling of the lymph nodes.

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.

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This includes several from stables in Ireland, including five from the yard of Gordon Elliott, one of Ireland's most successful trainers.

Since the incubation period for equine influenza can be up to 72 hours, samples will be taken on Friday from horses that raced at Ayr and Ludlow and sent to the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket for analysis.

In an attempt to limit the spread of the respiratory infection, which can be transmitted through the air and by humans, all horse racing in Britain has been cancelled until at least Wednesday, February 13, to allow the BHA to gather the information it needs from potentially infected horses.

In a statement issued through the National Trainers Federation, McCain said: "I have been aware of the recent news about equine influenza outbreaks in France and Ireland, and over the last couple of days, I have been concerned about the health status of a small number of horses in the yard".

That decision has been extended to ensure there will be no racing into next week in Britain.

"When new horses arrive at our yard we, as much as possible, try to keep them separate but at this stage can not know if the infection came from recent arrivals or from horses returning from racing".

"The situation here is not the same", the BHA said, adding Australian thoroughbreds aren't vaccinated against horse flu, while British horses are because the virus is endemic in the UK.

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