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No British horse racing until Wednesday amid flu outbreak

11 February 2019

Britain's horse racing industry was on tenterhooks on Friday following an outbreak of equine flu with next month's showpiece Cheltenham Festival the focus of attention. We will continue to risk assess over the course of the next few days.

Asked whether the meeting could potentially be salvaged and re-staged, Thick added: "I think it's too early to say at this time".

It continued: "It was in anticipation of this risk that the decision was taken by the BHA to restrict movement of horses on a precautionary basis at the yards of 120 other trainers who competed at these fixtures, and to suspend racing until Wednesday at the earliest".

Only two events have cancelled the Cheltenham Festival in the past; the 2001 foot-and-mouth crisis, and the second World War.

All race meetings have been cancelled until at least next Wednesday (13 February).

That includes swabs taken from three suspected cases at the yard of trainer Rebecca Menzies - although they will "remain under close surveillance", the BHA said.

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Under the rules of racing, Irish horses in training must be vaccinated for equine influenza, a disease which shows symptoms ranging from increased temperature, coughing, nasal discharge, being off feed, and more severe respiratory signs.

"We look forward to racing resuming as soon as possible, and hope that will be well in advance of the Festival", a Cheltenham Racecourse statement read. With McCain-trained horses running in Britain this week that potentially exposed a significant number of horses from yards across Britain and in Ireland. BHA procedures state that a racecourse can not race for at least four days following a deep clean having taken place.

Bettingexpert.com has estimated the current cancellations will end up costing the horse racing industry up to £100 million.

The alarm was raised on Wednesday night when three vaccinated horses at McCain's base were found to have equine influenza. It is highly contagious. It is also hard to believe that sufficient tests can be carried out for the BHA to make the next call by Monday.

The nine-year-old is the only one of what is now a total of six horses in the yard to have tested positives for the disease which had raced in recent days.

'But hopefully it won't go on that long, hopefully they would have got hold of this pretty quick and get it sorted out as quickly as possible.

No British horse racing until Wednesday amid flu outbreak