Racing In Britain Cancelled After Equine Influenza Outbreak

The horse racing world on Thursday woke up to the shocking news that there will be no racing going ahead in Britain for the foreseeable future following three cases of equine influenza found in horses that have already had the required vaccinations.

This Flu was found in an active race yard and because of this, racing across the UK has been ground to a halt meaning that the scheduled meetings at Huntingdon, Doncaster, Ffos Las and Chelmsford will not go ahead.

The BHA have done this as an emergency measure and announced it on Wednesday evening in a statement that gives no clear parameters as to when racing will be allowed to resume.

Racing in Ireland will still be going ahead with Thurles being the only meeting taking place today for racing fans. Meydan in the UAE also gives a lively card that will have to suffice for Thursdays racing.

(Credit Racing Post and BHA) The Statement from the BHA read: "The BHA, with unanimous support of the 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.

"Horses from the infected yard have raced today at Ayr and Ludlow, potentially exposing a significant number of horses from yards across the country and in Ireland. 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."

Cases of equine influenza over the recent weeks had been reported of in France and have now spread to Britain and Ireland.

The BHA issued a warning to racing professionals on January 19th but no cases in Britain had been confirmed from active yards in vaccinated horses until yesterday.

The statement continues: "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 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."

The infection which is carried airborne can go over long distances, whilst also being transferred to the animals through humans. This means that the spreading of the disease is at a high level and needs to be contained immediately.

The last serious case of this took place in Australia back in 2007 where it saw racing stopped for four months from August 25th to 1st December. The Melbourne Carnival still took place in Sydney that year but under strict bio-security measures and this could be the same for the Cheltenham Festival.