BHA chief Rust defends six-day shutdown over flu

Tanya Simon
February 14, 2019

Racing was given the green light to resume in Britain from tomorrow, after six blank days following an outbreak of equine influenza.

Racing in Britain was suspended last week after the Cheshire stables of trainer Donald McCain were hit with horses with the virus.

The all weather fixtures at Southwell and Kempton will go ahead tomorrow, alongside the two scheduled jump fixtures at Musselbrugh and Plumpton. We are working with the Thoroughbred Breeders Association and wider Newmarket community to attempt to contain the issue'.

A statement read: "Analysis is ongoing at the AHT, in line with a prioritisation plan based on the potential exposure of horses to a horse that has tested positive (for example at the fixture at Ayr on February 6), or to a horse from a yard returning a positive test".

But after a period of extensive testing and after seeking the advice of a series of veterinary experts, the BHA gave the go-ahead for a resumption late last night - but with strict biosecurity controls in place.

8 races in all will thrill and beguile on a day that will be steeped in history as another horse's name is added to the prestigious Kingwell Trophy, and racing celebrates the return of one of the country's most popular sports.

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Both were placed under lockdown but racing has been allowed to continue in Ireland.

"We are finalising overnight which category individual trainers will now be placed in".

Trainers including Nigel Twiston-Davies and Colin Tizzard have questioned the BHA strategy, and prominent owner Dai Walters claimed they had "lit a fire they can't put out".

BHA chief regulatory officer Brant Dunshea said the group was balancing the need to ensure no more horses were exposed to "this virulent strain of flu" - which reportedly infected some animals despite their vaccinations - while also trying to avoid "a long-term disruption to racing with the risk of many of our major events being unduly impacted".

"Having had the opportunity to consider things over the weekend, the board have made the decision that we are able to support that movement - which is obviously good news for everybody".

"Should the decision be taken to return to racing on Wednesday, declarations for any fixtures staged will be at 10am on Tuesday". We will observe closely those horses who are taken to the racecourse and will intervene as a precaution to prevent a horse running or accessing a racecourse if we believe it might put other horses at risk of infection.

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