BHA On Welfare Alert With Heatwave Forecasted

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BHA On Welfare Alert With Heatwave Forecasted

The British Horseracing Authority have highlighted the importance of horse welfare, going into the forecasted heatwave in Britain this week.

Temperatures are expected to rocket to 37C in some areas of the UK on Thursday, which could lead to record highs by the time the flag falls at Sandown, Yarmouth and Southwell in the early afternoon.

There are also evening fixtures at Newbury and Doncaster, commencing at 4:55 and 5:45 respectively, and the sports governing body are taking every measure possible to ensure the safety of it's horses.

The BHA's director of equine health and welfare - David Sykes said: "Thoroughbred horses are adapted to running in hot temperatures, and racing takes place in countries like Australia, Dubai and the USA in hotter temperatures than in Great Britain.

"As an industry we have experience dealing with these conditions and take precautionary measures when the temperatures rise, for the benefit of both human and equine participants.

"For example, racecourses are instructed to increase the provision of cool water and ice with plenty of staff to help distribute it, areas of shade and earlier access to stables, and trainers are advised to travel their horses early with plenty of water and keep them cool before and after racing.

"Every racecourse is inspected prior to racing to ensure that the hot weather provisions are sufficient or ascertain where they may be further enhanced."

The BHA is not anticipating any problems caused by the incoming weather for meetings to be postponed beforehand, but more in mind for courses to take any necessary action during the day.

Monmouth Park's Haskell Invitational card in New Jersey on Saturday was interrupted by sweltering conditions, whilst closer to home, a long-distance chase at Cheltenham was aborted last year because of unnatural seasonal highs.  

Sykes added: "Veterinary teams and racecourse staff are all on hand to provide care for horses before and after they have competed, and they are constantly looking out for any horses who show any signs of not coping with the heat before or after they race.

"The welfare of our participants always comes first and – should there be any concern regarding the effect of the weather on the horses or jockeys – the BHA has the ability to take action to ensure their welfare is protected.

"This might include cancelling or delaying specific races if required, or even calling off a fixture if the evidence shows that there is too great a risk to horses's health to carry on."

Temperatures could soar to 35C at Sandown and 32C at Southwell, whilst Yarmouth's predicted heat is a little more bearable at 28C with the coastal breeze to assist.

Yarmouth Clerk of the course Richard Aldous said: "You always hope you've got a breeze being by the seaside, but we will have plenty of water out. Water troughs in the winner's enclosure and parade ring and out on the course and in the stable yard.

"The benefit is the parade ring is right by the stable yard, so you've got wash-down boxes there as well.

"There'll be ice going into the water troughs and people on hand to help if there are any horses who have heat-stress problems," he finished.

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