Nico De Boinville, one of Britain’s senior weighing room jockey’s, has expressed his fear that the ongoing shutdown of racing due to the Equine Influenza virus could risk people’s jobs across the industry.
Since a strain of the virus was found in three horses from Donald McCain’s yard last week, racing across Britain has been cancelled and 100 yards have been forced to go into lockdown, including those of Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson.
De Boinville, who is Henderson’s number one stable jockey and rode a winner at Ludlow on Wednesday, has been carrying on riding out the champion trainer’s string, where it has been business as usual.
However, some other jockeys, work riders, and members of yards will be struggling to make ends meet.
De Boinville points out specifically that valets of the jockeys could be hit the hardest, as when the jockeys do not have a job neither do they. And the domino effect could potentially be a disaster for the industry.
Another effect due to the sparsity of racing means less senior jockeys will be riding out more in a bid to gain some money that they are losing without any race rides.
Jockeys such as Sam Twiston-Davies, Aidan Coleman and Jamie Bargary have used this enforced break to recharge their batteries and jet away on holiday until racing resumes, while Harry Cobden stayed in the UK help out his boss Paul Nicholls.
Jockeys Sean Bowen and Tom Scudamore took advantage of the crisis to head across the Irish Sea to ride at Punchestown’s meeting on Sunday.
The breeding industry has also been affected by the virus, and various studs, including Darley’s Dalham Hall and Cheveley Park Stud, have revised their vaccine guidelines for mares heading to their studs.
Traditionally, the covering season gets underway this week, and the virus could be detrimental to breeders if the virus isn’t contained.
Racing in the UK has been cancelled until Wednesday at the earliest, and it remains uncertain when racing will resume.
The prestigious Betfair Hurdle meeting at Newbury, Warwick’s Kingmaker Novices’ Chase, and Musselburgh’s re-staged Cheltenham Trials day over the weekend were all postponed, and as the Cheltenham Festival is just around the corner, it is unlikely these meetings will be rescheduled unless racing returns this week.
Newbury’s meeting was due to feature the 2018 Gold Cup winner, Native River, and this season’s King George winner Clan Des Obeaux. While Warwick’s card was headlined by Arkle favourite Kalashnikov.
The BHA is expected to release a statement on Monday afternoon about if and when racing can return in Britain.