HOPES of an early return to horseracing in Britain have been dashed after four cases of equine flu in Newmarket were revealed by the British Horseracing Authority last night.
No racing has taken place since Wednesday after six cases of the highly contagious virus were found at Donald McCain’s Cheshire stable last week.
Hopes were high of a resumption this week – the British Horseracing Authority is due later today to rule on a Wednesday comeback – Musselburgh, Plumpton, Southwell and Kempton Park were due to host fixtures – after 1,500 tests for the condition came back with the ‘all clear’ over the weekend.
Paddy Power even offered 1-8 about meetings being staged by next Sunday – and the Dublin-based layer made the Cheltenham Festival, due to start on March 12, 66-1 ON to take place as planned.
But plans for an imminent resumption were thrown into chaos after a BHA bulletin last night which revealed that four horses trained by Simon Crisford at the Kremlin House Stables on Newmarket’s Fordham Road have been confirmed as infected by equine flu.
The racing season has been brought to a standstill
A British Horseracing Authority statement took the step of naming Crisford, who took up training in 2014 after years with Sheikh Mohammed’s all-conquering Godolphin operation – and who saddled a Royal Ascot winner when Ostilio won the Britainnia Stakes last June – to inform the Newmarket community of the infected stable.
“This yard is one of the 174 which has been required to undergo testing due to the fact that runners from the stable competed at the fixture at Newcastle on 5 February, which had been identified as a potential risk fixture. At the moment the affected horses are all contained within this yard.
“The Newmarket community – including licensed trainers, veterinary surgeries, farriers, racing school and all other relevant bodies – are being advised to continue to show increased vigilance in biosecurity.”
McCain did not have runners at Newcastle’s all-weather Flat meeting last Tuesday.
But the Gosforth Park card did attract two horses from Co Durham yard of Rebecca Menzies, where horses originally flagged up as ‘suspicious’ by the BHA were yesterday given a clean bill of health.
While Crisford’s Newmarket neighbour Charlie Appleby received the ‘all clear’ from 101 horses swabbed last week, champion National Hunt trainer Nicky Henderson is still waiting for the result of tests at his Seven Barrows stable in Lambourn on Friday morning.
“I’ve got nothing on my results at all — I have heard nothing,” said Henderson.
“All we can do is sit tight. We’re all in the same boat. We can only hope – we’re getting into dangerous times.”
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