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No horse racing for six days after Equine Flu outbreak

All horse races in Britain have been called off until Wednesday at the earliest.

Outbreak: Horses from the infected yard raced at Ayr.
Outbreak: Horses from the infected yard raced at Ayr. SNS

The British Horseracing Authority has cancelled all race meetings until at least next Wednesday after an outbreak of equine flu.

Thursday's four fixtures were called off following confirmation three vaccinated horses had tested positive for the disease.

The BHA reported horses from the infected yard raced on Wednesday at Ayr and Ludlow, adding identification of the virus in vaccinated animals presented a "cause for significant concern".

Trainer Donald McCain confirmed the horses came from his stable in Cheshire.

To ascertain the risk of the flu spreading, the BHA said it's veterinary team contacted up to 50 trainers and veterinarians on Thursday afternoon.

Although no further positive tests have yet returned, as it can take up to three days for symptoms to surface the authorities have opted to cancel the weekend's race calendar as a precaution.

A decision will be made on Monday as to whether racing will resume on Wednesday.

The BHA's statement said: "The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has this afternoon taken the decision that racing will not resume in Britain until Wednesday, February 13 at the earliest, including fixtures programmed by the Point-to-Point Authority.

"The disease can take up to three days before symptoms are visible, meaning it will take until Sunday at the earliest before the BHA can gather all the information required.

"This approach will allow samples to be collected and assessed by the Animal Health Trust in order that a fully informed decision can be made on Monday.

"This may then allow declarations to take place on Tuesday in time for racing on Wednesday, with 24-hour declarations for all fixtures on this day, should racing be able to resume. Declarations for Thursday would revert to the usual procedures."

Musselburgh Racecourse general manager, Bill Farnsworth, said: "We are naturally disappointed at losing our richest jumps racing fixture this weekend (Sunday 10 Feb) but the racing community is working together to minimise the spread of equine influenza and the decision by the BHA to cancel racing is without doubt the correct one.

"The industry does prepare for scenarios such as these and I am confident that the stringent procedures which are in place across the UK will ensure that racing is back and up running as soon as it is safe to do so.

"A decision will be taken on Monday by the BHA as to when racing will resume, and if our next meeting scheduled for Wednesday (13 Feb) goes ahead as planned, there will be free admission for all."

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