All four of Thursday’s race meetings have been cancelled because of an outbreak of equine flu.
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA), with unanimous support of its industry veterinary committee, took the dramatic decision last Wednesday night after being informed by the Animal Health Trust of three confirmed influenza positives from vaccinated horses in an active racing yard.
Horses from the infected yard raced on Wednesday at Ayr and Ludlow, potentially exposing a significant number of horses from yards across the country and in Ireland. The fact that the cases have been identified in vaccinated horses presents was, said the BHA, “a cause for significant concern over welfare and the potential spread of the disease and the action to cancel racing has been viewed as necessary in order to restrict, as far as possible, the risk of further spread of the disease”.
The BHA said the full extent of the problem was not yet known but it has worked quickly to identify which yards could have potentially been exposed. The BHA is communicating with yards potentially exposed to ensure appropriate quarantine and biosecurity measures are put in place and horse movements restricted.
Meanwhile, leading Australian trainer Darren Weir, 48, who won the 2015 Melbourne Cup with the Michelle Payne-ridden Prince Of Penzance, has been disqualified for four years after electing not to contest charges of possession of devices used to deliver electric shocks to horses. The Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board found him guilty of three charges of possessing an electric or electronic apparatus capable of affecting the performance of a horse, and one charge of conduct prejudicial to the image, interests or welfare of racing. The disqualification will come into effect immediately.