Published: Fri, February 08, 2019
Sports | By Johanna Francis

Horse racing at Doncaster cancelled due to equine flu outbreak

Horse racing at Doncaster cancelled due to equine flu outbreak

An outbreak of equine flu forced racing into a dramatic six-day shutdown to blow the biggest hole in the sport's programme since the foot-and-mouth crisis that put paid to the Cheltenham Festival in 2001.

Three vaccinated horses in an active yard tested positive for the disease having raced on Wednesday - potentially exposing a significant number of horses.

"One would like to think this could go in a couple of days but the BHA are going to have to pull out all the stops to make sure this doesn't go through all the horse population".

However, because McCain had runners at Wolverhampton on Monday and Ludlow and Ayr on Wednesday, all yards which had runners at the same meetings were effectively closed, although Gordon Elliot was able to divert his Ayr runners to an isolation yard 15 miles from his base in Meath, as they were still travelling home late on Wednesday night.

Leading Irish trainer Gordon Elliott had horses running at Ayr and has confirmed in his blog with that the horses in question are now quarantined in an isolation yard which is a 25-minute journey from his training base in Meath.

Equine influenza, or equine flu, is a strain of flu that effects horses.

"The disease can take up to three days before symptoms are visible, meaning it will take until Sunday at the earliest before the BHA can gather all the information required".

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Racing had been due to take place on Thursday at several tracks, with more races planned for the weekend.

A decision on whether racing can resume next Wednesday will be made by the BHA on Monday.

McCain, who saddled Ballabriggs to win the Grand National in 2011 and has more than 100 horses in his stable, said "the BHA were contacted immediately" once the positive result for equine influenza had been confirmed and that he is "liaising closely with them about biosecurity and management of all the horses at Bankhouse".

"When new horses arrive at our yard we, as much as possible, try to keep them separate", McCain said in a statement.

"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".

Taking to Equus magazine, he said: "This isn't a case of the virus being on their hands and passed through contact, but humans that are infected and shedding it in their own nasal secretions to infect horses".

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