It would appear that the equine-flu nightmare of the past few days is almost at an end following last night’s announcement by the BHA that horse racing will make a scheduled return on Wednesday afternoon, the four races that day set to he held under enhanced biosecurity measures. This is excellent news for the sport and it also includes the rescheduling of a number of important races including the Denman Chase and Betfair Hurdle, these cancelled at the weekend and set to be run at Ascot this Saturday.
The BHA were swift in their action following the outbreak of the virus at Cheshire trainer Donald McCain’s yard last week, however there were fears that racing wouldn’t resume at all this week after more cases were discovered on Sunday evening. Such fears have now been allayed following last night’s announcement by the BHA.
The BHA’s chief regulatory officer, Brant Dunshea, said: “After analysis of thousands of samples, and no further positive tests on Monday, we still have only two confirmed sites of infection. We have put robust containment measures in place around both. From the testing and analysis conducted the disease appears to be contained at present.”
Nevertheless not all stables will be permitted to send horses to the track this week, the BHA categorising yards based on their potential risk of exposure to the virus. Priority will be given to those stables which have had runners vaccinated within the last six months and this could be bad news for trainers who have a policy of doing their vaccinations in the summer months.
More importantly for many thousands of punters, the latest news means that any likelihood of the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National being affected are very minimal indeed.