Equine flu crisis: biggest shutdown since foot and mouth hits racing

Equine Influenza strikes Britain

EI outbreak halts British racing

There were four meetings scheduled in the United Kingdom on Thursday at Chelmsford City, Doncaster, Ffos Las and Huntingdon along with Thurles in Ireland.

Irish trainer Gordon Elliott ran a number of horses at Ayr on Wednesday but his runners were still travelling back home when the news of the positive tests broke and they were quickly placed in isolation away from his stables.

However, the statement added that runners from Britain would not be permitted to race in Ireland until further notice.

Hose races have been cancelled all over Britain because it's come out that three horses in an active yard have been diagnosed with equine influenza.

Leading Welsh horse trainer, Tim Vaughan, says the equine flu outbreak, which has forced the cancellation of all race meetings across the United Kingdom, could last up to 10 weeks, and could affect the Cheltenham Festival.

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As a result all meetings on Thursday have been abandoned.

"This approach will allow samples to be collected and assessed by the Animal Health Trust in order that a fully informed decision can be made on Monday".

Part of what's scaring people so much about this recent diagnosis of equine flu is the fact that the horses who have tested positive for the disease had been previously vaccinated against it.

Racing in Britain will not resume until at least Wednesday, February 13 to minimise the risk of the spread of an outbreak of equine influenza. Declarations for Thursday would revert to the usual procedures.

In a statement, the BHA said: "This precautionary approach is meant to ensure we put the health of the horse population and control of the virus first, and avoid any unnecessary risk that might come from returning to racing too quickly".

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It added that a plan to reschedule this weekend's key races will be constructed.

McCain said: "We are scrupulous about observing the health status of horses in our care and taking the necessary steps to treat any condition that may affect them".

Donald McCain's three infected horses had all been vaccinated against equine influenza.

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

Consequently horses stabled north of the Murray River couldn't compete in the 2007 Melbourne Spring Carnival, which largely proceeded as per normal but with increased bio-security measures. Horses in training are required to be vaccinated for equine influenza in Ireland under the Rules of Racing.

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