Following the outbreak of equine influenza last week, racegoers have been wondering what it may mean for the big race meetings on the horizon, including the 2019 Randox Health Grand National.
All horse racing was suspended last week and there will be no fixtures across the country until Wednesday 13th February at the earliest. Indeed the possibility remains that this suspension might be extended following the news that four more cases of the highly-contagious disease were discovered at Simon Crisford’s stable near Newmarket.
The initial discovery of equine flu at Donald McCain’s yard was followed by a belief that the virus may have been contained, however that clearly isn’t the case and it would appear that vaccinated horses are also susceptible given that the four recent cases have all been in horses which have been vaccinated.
BHA officials are to convene later today (Monday 11th February) to decide upon what action should be taken. The fact that the Crisford outbreak didn’t have an obvious link to the original cases makes it likely that equine influenza might be more widespread than originally feared.
The implications for horse racing could be pretty grim should the lockdown continue for much longer, while for punters the fear is that the big race meetings on the horizon may be affected or even cancelled, fears which Grand National organisers are attempting to allay.
A spokesman for Aintree racecourse said: “We are in contact with the British Horseracing Authority on this matter, who are handling it on behalf of British Racing and providing regular updates.
“The Randox Health Grand National Festival is another eight weeks away and we hope that the BHA’s early actions will resolve this matter quickly.”