British horse racing suspended until at least Wednesday
Last Updated: 08/02/19 8:18am
Racing in Britain will not resume until at least Wednesday, February 13 to minimise the risk of the spread of an outbreak of equine influenza.
Racing was called off at four venues on Thursday - Ffos Las, Huntingdon, Doncaster and Chelmsford - after three horses from Donald McCain's yard in Cheshire tested positive for the disease.
McCain sent out runners at Wolverhampton on Monday and both Ayr and Ludlow on Wednesday before the test results were revealed on Wednesday night.
A number of stables, including those of Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls, were placed on lockdown while further testing was undertaken on horses who might have come into contact with the McCain runners earlier in the week.
But the British Horseracing Authority has now taken the step to call off all meetings scheduled for the rest of this week and the first half of next week.
Newbury's Super Saturday card and further graded action at Warwick are among the meetings that will now not take place on their scheduled date.
Racing is still set to continue in Ireland, where Thursday's meeting at Thurles took place, but no entries from British stables will be accepted until further notice.
Irish trainer Gordon Elliott ran a number of horses at Ayr on Wednesday but his runners were still travelling back home when the news of the positive tests broke and they were quickly placed in isolation away from his stables.
A BHA statement read: "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 BHA's veterinary team has today been in contact with more than 50 trainers and veterinarians to allow it to make an informed assessment of the risk of equine influenza spreading.
"Whilst no further positive tests have been received, at least three more days are required before it will be possible to make a decision about whether it is safe to resume racing.
"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."
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.
Separately, as a precaution, all of the trainers who had runners at the fixtures at Wolverhampton, Ludlow and Ayr this week have been informed that their yards have been placed under a temporary hold which means that they will not be able to make any declarations until their horses have been tested and cleared.
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