This week saw a return to UK racing after the sport was shut down
for the first time following an outbreak of equine flu that threatened
to become an epidemic. Freetips.com reports that one of the first
races to be run on the first day back was at Kempton Park was won
by Clearance, a victory that carries a slight irony due to the name of
the winning horse.
All horse racing was suspending in the UK on the 7th of February
following an unprecedented outbreak of the virus which is not often
seen as it is routinely vaccinated out. The shutdown lasted for six
days and saw over 170 stables locked down and movement
restricted. There was a lot of frustration in the sport as many felt the
move was unneeded, but the British Horse Association stood by the
decision saying that the committee felt the number of cases seen
across Europe had reached a level that caused concern.
The initial flag was raised in the UK when six horses at the same
stables all tested positive for the virus despite being vaccinated
against. It is believed that in much the same way as human flu there
are different strains it is clear that a new strain seems to be able to
get to the animal despite the vaccines.
Four horses at a Newmarket
stable belonging to trainer Simon Crisford were the next animals to
be found to have the flu although at the first meets after the ban the
trainer was keen to share the news that these horses have made a
recovery and are all now safely testing negative.
On social media the fear swept the main platforms with reports
coming in from all over the country of animals suffering, although in
a lot of cases these were not racehorses; however, maps were
being produced, and the stress rocked the horse owning
community. The BHA stood by the advice that movement should be
limited and all animals should be kept up to date with their
When the racing recommenced, it was under special
measures with all trainers having to provide proof that the horse
had been vaccinated within the last six months before they were
cleared to compete. Many animals were tested during the period,
and it seems likely that the outbreak has been contained and will not cause further bother as long as the special measures are
They were certainly not to be argued with on the day, as
Andrew Hughes from Ireland discovered to his cost. He made a 380
mile trip to the Musselburgh meet with his horse The Tartan
Spartan, but he was sent home without running after the trainer was
not able to produce evidence of a negative flu swab for the animal.
It is now hoped the incident is over and racing can resume on
schedule with many of the missed races being rescheduled over the
coming days and weeks.