BHA confirms 'risk-managed' return to racing after equine flu breakout

By Sports Desk February 11, 2019

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) announced racing will resume on Wednesday following a meeting with the veterinary committee.

Last Thursday, all meetings were cancelled until at least February 13 following an outbreak of equine flu, with the BHA fearful the disease could spread.

Doubts about the resumption of racing were raised on Sunday following the news of four positive tests from Simon Crisford's stables in Newmarket.

However, the BHA announced a "risk-managed return" will take place on Wednesday following a consultation with its veterinary committee and taking into account the latest tests conducted by the Animal Health Trust.

The BHA's chief regulatory office, Brant Dunshea, said: "Our approach since hearing about the first positive results last Wednesday has been based on accumulating as much information as we could as quickly as possible so we could properly understand the risks of this virulent strain of flu spreading to more horses.

"That would be harmful to them and damaging to any trainers' yards that became infected.

"It has also been our intention to ensure that we avoid an issue that could result in a long-term disruption to racing with the risk of many of our major events being unduly impacted.

"After analysis of thousands of samples, and no further positive tests on Monday, we still only have two confirmed sites of infection. We have put robust containment measures in place around both.

"From the testing and analysis conducted the disease appears to be contained at present.

"The BHA veterinary committee believe that the swift controls on movement that were put in place have clearly helped to restrict the spread of this virus.

"Clearly, there is some risk associated with returning to racing. This risk has been assessed and, based on the evidence - and ensuring biosecurity measures are in place – the level of risk is viewed as acceptable."

Two scheduled jump meetings at Musselburgh and Plumpton will consequently go ahead, as will all-weather fixtures at Southwell and Kempton.

The BHA's statement added: "As part of the controlled return, the BHA has developed a risk framework which allows us to categorise individual trainers by the level of risk they have been exposed to. 

"The ability of runners to return to racing from those yards will depend on the risk categories the yards are placed in.

"We are finalising overnight which category individual trainers will currently be placed in."

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