8th February 2019
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has committed to providing meaningful daily updates regarding the ongoing situation in relation to the equine influenza case.
The analytical work is continuing, which involves testing of horses from a number of trainers yards across the country and seeking to isolate any issues we find in a bid to ensure that the situation is under control as much as possible, to protect the health of animals and to put racing back on the road as soon as is safely possible.
We will provide material updates with regards to any new cases and give as much information as is relevant and appropriate each day, while also respecting confidentiality and privacy of potentially affected people.
The BHA team is working closely with trainers, the NTF and other parts of racing, from who we have had excellent levels of cooperation. The Animal Health Trust is processing tests in their hundreds as quickly as possible and, alongside the project team at the BHA, is working throughout the weekend to help build an overall picture of the issue.
This process will continue over the coming days in order that an informed and evidence-based decision can be made on Monday as to whether racing can return on Wednesday. In the meantime we ask that everyone involved in the sport continues to be vigilant, restrict where possible all movements of horses and people and maintains the highest standards of biosecurity.
Of the samples that have been returned so far, three further positive results for equine influenza have been reported, all from the original affected yard. This means that in total six positive tests have been returned from the horses tested so far from this yard. Of the four horses from this yard who competed at fixtures this week, one has returned a positive sample so far – Raise A Spark, who competed at Ayr on 6 February. The test on this runner relates to a sample taken the following day, and the horse showed no clinical symptoms on raceday.
It was in anticipation of this risk that the decision was taken by the BHA to restrict movement of horses on a precautionary basis at the yards of 120 other trainers who competed at these fixtures, and to suspend racing until Wednesday at the earliest. This action was taken to mitigate the impact of any of the runners which competed at these fixtures being found to be infected by the virus.
We request that media respect that the priority of the yard in question now is to follow the necessary procedures to minimise the impact of this incident, and therefore not to contact the yard. Any queries on this matter should be directed to the BHA. The BHA would like to reiterate its thanks to the trainer for his cooperation and the responsible manner in which he has deal with this issue.
Testing of horses at the 120 yards which have been put on hold is continuing on an ongoing basis. No further positive samples have been reported as yet.
However, a separate suspicious case – which has not yet been confirmed as a positive sample – has been identified at another yard. No links have been identified between this yard and the original yard. This yard had runners at the fixtures at Newcastle on 5 February and Wolverhampton on 6 February, and as such the BHA has taken the further precautionary steps of placing all 54 yards of trainers who also had runners at these fixtures on hold and initiating testing of horses from these yards.
The BHA is working closely with the Animal Health Trust in order to manage the logistical challenge of providing sufficient swabs and handling the volume of tests being sent through the facility, considering that testing of a total of 174 yards is now taking place. It will not be possible to test every horse from every yard before the end of the weekend, but we will work with trainers to identify any priority or risk horses and ensure that they are tested. This will all form part of the picture that is built in order to assist the decisions that will be made on Monday.