United Kingdom horse racing suspended due to equine flu

EI outbreak halts British racing

"If you're to ask me again about Cheltenham I hope to be completely definitive then".

"The BHA team is working closely with trainers, the NTF and other parts of racing, from who we have had excellent levels of cooperation", read a statement.

"Customers who had booked tickets should contact the racecourse to organise an exchange or refund, as appropriate".

Looking further ahead, the loss of meetings could have an impact on running plans for yards looking to ready horses for the Cheltenham Festival, which is due to begin on Tuesday, March 12.

I asked Lee how different this outbreak was compared to the Foot and mouth outbreak of 2001 which brought a halt to the Cheltenham festival that year. If it can be contained quickly it could be over in a matter of days.

It is one of four meetings across the United Kingdom scheduled today that have been cancelled by the British Horseracing Authority.

Britain's horse racing industry was on tenterhooks on Friday following an outbreak of equine flu with next month's showpiece Cheltenham Festival the focus of attention.

Equine influenza is a highly infectious disease of horses, mules and donkeys.

North/South racing and transport of horses is unaffected.

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However, these three reported cases are the first to have come from an active yard and in vaccinated horses, raising concerns that the strain could be immune, putting thousands of horses at risk. At least 23 races will not take place in the next week.

The outbreak was discussed in parliament on Thursday.

Bettingexpert.com has estimated the current cancellations will end up costing the horse racing industry up to £100 million.

A BHA release said the cross-over of horses at the tracks could cause infection to horses around Britain and in Ireland.

The alarm was raised on Wednesday night when three vaccinated horses at McCain's base were found to have equine influenza.

Horse racing across the United Kingdom has been banned today, Thursday, in a bid to stop the spread of a serious disease. "It's similar to humans - but they get over it". The BHA consulted with its veterinary committee before making this decision.

A spokesperson for Defra said: "The disease is not notifiable in the United Kingdom and there's no public health risk".

A total of 21 face meetings have been cancelled so far by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) in a bid to stop contamination between horses.

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