The short-term future of British horse racing is up in the air right now, after cases of equine flu were found this week. As we stand now, over 150 horse racing yards in Britain have been shut down. Racing has been cancelled for a week to avoid the possible spread of this disease. However, over the next few days we may see further cases appear, and the more that do, the longer this situation will take to solve.
The one small positive to come out so far is how quickly this has been caught by the trainers involved. Three cases of the flu virus were found in horses at the Donald McCain yard. He has since been praised by both the BHA and vets involved for quickly bringing it to their attention. He had seen the horses struggling for a few days and had daily checks carried out by his vet. It was these checks that brought the disease to light.
However he had runners at both Ayr and Ludlow on Wednesday from the yard. None have tested positive for the virus. But there is a chance that is still may have spread elsewhere.
The three horses with the virus did not travel to a racecourse and run. However, we have heard that a further three runners from the McCain yard have the flu. One of these horses did run at Ayr, and that opens the spread of the disease up to a lot more.
Any trainer that had runners at Wolverhampton last Monday or Ayr and Ludlow on Wednesday has been put on lockdown. They require every horse to be checked by a vet before they are allowed to run again. Now with the additional runners from the McCain yard having the virus, and a suspicious case in another yard being confirmed, those with runners on Tuesday at Newcastle and Wednesday at Wolverhampton have also been put on lockdown.
Short Term Future Of Racing
This means that over 150 horse racing yards in Britain are now on lockdown. They must now wait for authorisation to continue their daily business. Horses from Britain are banned from travelling elsewhere right now, and that includes over to Ireland. Racing continues in Ireland for now.
The future in the short term does not look good at all. It is highly likely that the outbreak will cause racing to be abandoned longer than the original date of next Wednesday. The fear is that big events like the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National will be affected. The BHA will want to ensure every single horse in every single yard is clear before they allow horse racing to commence yet again.
The next few weeks may look a little bleak for horse racing fans. But the health and well-being of the runners must take priority. This story is sure to unfold more over the coming days and let’s hope we don’t hear about any more cases of equine flu from now onwards.