Equine flu cancels horse racing in United Kingdom until Wednesday at earliest

Equine Influenza strikes Britain

Equine Influenza strikes Britain

Thursday's fixtures at Huntingdon, Doncaster, Ffos Las and Chelmsford City have been cancelled.

McCain, who saddled Ballabriggs to win the Grand National in 2011 and has more than 100 horses in his stable, said "the BHA were contacted immediately" once the positive result for equine influenza had been confirmed and that he is "liaising closely with them about biosecurity and management of all the horses at Bankhouse".

A statement from the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) read, "Horses from the infected yard have raced at Ayr and Ludlow, potentially exposing a significant number of horses from yards across the country and in Ireland".

This is following the BHA being informed this evening by the Animal Health Trust of three confirmed Equine Influenza positives from vaccinated horses in an active racing yard'.

All of Thursday's racing at British racecourses was cancelled late on Wednesday night because of an outbreak of equine influenza, the first time such drastic action has been taken since the foot and mouth crisis in 2001.

It was later announced that racing in Britain has been suspended until at least Wednesday, February 13.

But it added that "at least three more days are required before it will be possible to make a decision about whether it is safe to resume racing". Declarations for Thursday would revert to the usual procedures.

As an interim precaution, the IHRB and HRI have decided that runners from Britain will not be permitted to run in Ireland in an effort to reduce the risk of further spread of the disease via horse movement.Horses will continue to be able to race across the north/south of the island of Ireland.

A plan will be constructed for the rescheduling of key races - and those which may provide important opportunities for horses to run - which are lost during this period.

The disease is however being reported in vaccinated horses. We recommend that any trainer who has concerns about the health status of any of their horses should contact their veterinarian'.

"Over the last two months, all potential runners have been scoped and their blood checked within 36 hours of their races to ensure that only healthy horses compete for the yard".

Donald McCain's yard was the only one represented at both tracks.

"The horses we ran at Ayr yesterday never came back to our yard and instead went to a non-racing isolation yard that is about 25 minutes away from where we are based".

What is equine flu and why is it such a problem for racing?