British horse racing resumes after equine influenza outbreak
The British horse racing industry is resuming normal operations after being shut down for nearly a week after an outbreak of equine influenza. Veterinarians with the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) have given the all-clear and seem confident that the resumption of racing no longer poses a threat to the British equine community.
A full resumption of horse racing activities comes after three UK race horses, who participated in races, were reported as having cases of the very contagious equine flu late last week. Equine flu mirrors human flu in that it causes fevers and coughs. While it’s not generally fatal to the animals, the equine flu can have a serious impact on the integrity of races that include sick horses competing against healthy horses.
Since the shutdown began on February 7, thousands of horses have been tested for the presence of equine influenza and no new cases have been found. This is, of course, great news for British track owners, bookmakers, and anyone associated with the industry as the shutdown was costing millions of pounds a day.
BHA chief regulatory officer Brant Dunshea described the resumption of horse racing to BBC Sports saying, “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.”
The resumption of activity at British horse racing tracks comes right as the industry is getting ready for its biggest event, next month’s Cheltham Festival, an event the industry simply cannot afford to miss.
All 23 races that were cancelled during the flu outbreak are set to be rescheduled.