It has been announced that more than a hundred stables are now on lock down as British Horse Racing continues to suspend all meetings in a crackdown to control the recent equine flu crisis.
The six day shut down that was imposed on Thursday as hundreds of horses are now in quarantine as the sports governing body awaits crucial results that will show if the out break has spread and with next month’s marquee event the Cheltenham festival at risk they will help determine when racing may resume in this country.
The crisis came to light on Wednesday evening when news was released that three vaccinated horses had all tested positive at the Cheshire stables of Grand National winning trainer Donald McCain.
After the alarm had been raised and due to the fact other horses from that infected stables had raced at meetings in Ayr, Ludlow and Wolverhampton that week the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) official cancelled all meeting due to be held on Thursday.
After further discussion the temporary ban was later extended untill next Wednesday at the earliest while test were carried out.
While the Equine influenza itself is not dissimilar to the human version and is not life threating to the horses, the virus in extremely contagious and infected horse do get similar symptoms like running noses and coughing leaving them in no condition to race.
Speaking about the current situation one of the countries top trainers Nicky Henderson told BBC radio 5;
“I'm estimating that there will be 1,500-plus taken overall today, we have a team of six vets taking nasal swabs off the 150 horses here.”
“They are then going to be driven to the Animal Health Trust at Newmarket, where they will be analysed.”
He then added;
“We did have two horses running at Ludlow on Wednesday where there was a horse that has come from Donald's yard, and it could have been in contact with an infected horse.”
“It is very, very virulent so it does not matter how much pains you go through to keep these things at bay, it is very dangerous.
“We are all totally vaccinated, rigidly, it's compulsory. Unfortunately, I am told there is only 40% of the horse world – of the horses in Britain – that are actually vaccinated. There is no jurisdiction for horses outside of racing to say that you have to be vaccinated.
“Like in humans, there are many, many strains of it. So it is possible there is a new one that you don't know about.”
At the same time BHA chief executive Nick Rust said it was to early to say “definitively” if this will effect the Cheltenham festival, although he praised the quick action by the sports governing body, the trainers and vets in helping to limit the outbreaks effect over the next few weeks.
“All the trainers (over 100) who had runners at meetings on Wednesday have given nasal swabs to their horses, everyone has moved very quickly. It augurs well for Cheltenham to go ahead in a month's time.”
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