A RACE day at Uttoxeter Racecourse had to be abandoned at the weekend due to a national ban on the equine sport. The temporary ban on horse-racing was ordered by the British Horseracing Authority last week, following confirmed reports of three cases of Equine Influenza positives from vaccinated horses in an active racing yard. The ban, which was in place at all British racecourses, ran from Thursday, February 7 through to Tuesday, February 12, with the ban being lifted today – Wednesday, February 13. This meant that the scheduled race day at Uttoxeter Racecourse on Saturday, February 9 had to be cancelled.
Uttoxeter Racecourse executive director David MacDonald said: “Whilst I am disappointed we had to abandon Saturday’s racing, I absolutely support the decisive action taken by the British Horseracing Authority and the steps that they have taken now could well have prevented something catastrophic happening.
“Racing as an industry provides billions to local economies and over 85,000 people’s livelihoods depend on the sport so the abandonment of racing is of course serious commercially and Uttoxeter will be affected by losing the February meeting but I am still 100 per cent behind the decision taken by the BHA.”
Equine influenza is a highly infectious disease of horses, mules and donkeys occurring globally caused by strains of Influenza A virus. It is the most potentially damaging of the respiratory viruses that occur in UK equines and disease symptoms in non–immune animals include high fever, coughing and nasal discharge.
The British Horseracing Authority announced, late on Monday evening, that they had decided upon a ‘risk-managed’ return to racing for today – Wednesday, February 13.
A spokesman said: “After consultation with its veterinary committee, and based on the latest tests conducted by the Animal Health Trust, the BHA’s Chief Regulatory Officer, Brant Dunshea, tonight confirmed that racing could resume, but only with strict biosecurity controls in place.
“This decision to return racing in a controlled, risk-managed manner was unanimously supported by the industry veterinary committee.”
Uttoxeter’s next race event will be the racecourse’s biggest event of the year – the Midlands Grand National, which is scheduled to take place on Saturday, March 16.
Uttoxeter’s Clerk of the Course, Eloise Quayle, said yesterday (Tuesday, February 12): “The racing community have breathed a sigh of relief when, late last night, the BHA allowed racing to resume from Wednesday.
“The BHA did absolutely the right thing by taking a proactive rather than reactive approach and may well have prevented this highly infectious and virulent strain of Equine Influenza from taking hold of the British racehorse population.
“A risk-managed return is being implemented with interim measures consisting of the declaration of horse health with supporting evidence that the horse is not infected, horses to have been vaccinated against flu within the last six months as well as the stringent biosecurity protocols that racecourses already have in place to prevent cross contamination between horses.
“ Having lost a meeting on Saturday, February 9 due to the Equine Influenza lock down, we are very much looking forward to going ahead with the Midlands Grand National meeting – arguably the biggest fixture in the Uttoxeter Racecourse calendar – on March 16.”
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