Horse racing at Doncaster cancelled due to equine flu outbreak

Ross Houston
February 8, 2019

Horse racing has been canceled in Britain until Wednesday Feb. the earliest, due to an equine flu outbreak.

Racing will not commence in Britain until next Wednesday at the earliest and a lockdown of more than 100 yards was enforced on Thursday as British racing's governing body took emergency measures to try to ensure the highly contagious virus does not spread.

The outbreak in McCain's yard was confirmed after his vet sent swabs from three horses he was anxious about to be tested by the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket.

The blanket ban means a total of at least 23 meetings will be lost, including Newbury's Betfair Hurdle card on Saturday.

The authority added that a "fully informed" decision is likely to be made on Monday, allowing declarations to take place on Tuesday in time for racing on Wednesday.

'The full extent of potential exposure is unknown and we are working quickly to understand as much as we can to assist our decision making.

"The BHA has worked quickly to identify which yards could have potentially been exposed today and identify the further actions required".

In 2001, an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease wiped out racing for two months in Britain, leading to the cancellation of the Cheltenham Festival, which is held every March.

As a result all meetings on Thursday have been abandoned.

"It was our big national hunt pre-Cheltenham race day so we're very disappointed", Harriet Graham said.

A statement by Cheltenham read: "We are in contact with the British Horseracing Authority on this matter, who are handling it on behalf of British racing and providing regular updates".

The action to cancel Thursday's races was taken with unanimous support of the BHA's industry veterinary committee and will affect meetings at Huntingdon, Doncaster, Ffos Las and Chelmsford.

Equine influenza is endemic in Britain's horse population, but vaccination against the disease is mandatory for thoroughbreds and most other breeds that are used competitively, such as eventers.

Gregory Gray, a researcher at Duke's Division of Infectious Diseases revealed his theory on how horse flu is transmitted via humans. However, this strain has affected vaccinated horses.

The BHA has said horses from infected yards have raced today at the Ayr and Ludlow race courses.

All racecourses that have had a McCain runner over the last three days have been requested to carry out a "deep clean" of their premises.

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