Mottershead: Trainers divided on BHA approach

Aubrey Yates
February 14, 2019

There has been a shutdown of racing in Britain since and more concerns were raised over when it could resume after four new positive tests were returned in vaccinated thoroughbreds at Simon Crisford's Newmarket yard on Sunday.

After consultation with its veterinary committee, and based on the latest tests conducted by the Animal Health Trust, the BHA's Chief Regulatory Officer, Brant Dunshea, confirmed that racing could resume but only with strict bio security controls in place.

The BHA suspended racing after three cases of the flu were found at stables in Cheshire. Articles appear on for a limited time.

The number of cases at this stable has now risen to six.

This decision to return racing in a controlled, risk-managed manner was unanimously supported by the industry veterinary committee on Monday evening at a meeting in London.

BHA said that as an additional measure, horses that have not been vaccinated in the previous six months will not be allowed to participate in the races.

There are 121 entries for Fontwell's six races ahead of Wednesday's final declarations.

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The horses that tested positive on Wednesday had been vaccinated - which is mandatory for nearly all breeds used in racing - prompting fears of a widespread outbreak of a mutant strain of the disease. The BHA veterinary committee believe that the swift controls on movement that were put in place have clearly helped to restrict the spread of this virus.

The prospect of racing returning quickly has divided the sport and while there was some optimism after the positive results from the weekend, realistically many are expecting the ban to be extended.

Racing will now take place at Kempton, Musselburgh, Plumpton and Southwell as planned on Wednesday, but special measures will be in place.

A total of 174 racing stables were placed in lockdown, while thousands of horses were tested for the virus.

Trainers planning to compete on Wednesday were advised by the BHA to declare at 10am on Tuesday. Earlier in the day, the stable had sent runners to races in Ayr, on Scotland's west coast, and Ludlow, near England's border with Wales, where they mingled with other horses from stables based all over the country.

In a statement, Crisford said: "None of the four horses that have returned positive tests for equine influenza displayed any clinical signs of respiratory illness, including nasal discharge and elevated temperatures, prior to the mandatory swabbing that was undertaken last Friday, February 8".

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