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Equine influenza outbreak as it happened - News, developments and quotes as all racing postponed until Wednesday at the earliest

Jonathan Vine 8 Feb 2019
Trainers, experts and governing bodies provide quotes and updates on the equine flu outbreak.

We bring you the latest quotes from trainers and experts alike, as the equine flu outbreak story continues to unfold on Thursday 7th February.

*Page will be updated throughout the day*




David Yates writing in the Mirror...

"The big spring festivals at Cheltenham and Aintree are still weeks away, but the idea that they may come under threat doesn’t bear thinking about."

"As far as the horses are concerned - and the vaccination against equine flu is compulsory - the virus is fatal only in extreme circumstances."

"Most infected horses will be well on the road to recovery after a couple of weeks, and will have shaken off the condition altogether within a couple of months."

"For the racing industry - which contributes £300m each year to the government coffers - everyone has their fingers crossed the return to normal will be a good deal sooner."

Quotes taken here >





BHA director of equine health and welfare, David Sykes praises Donald McCain's conduct...

"We would like to thank Donald McCain for his cooperation in this matter, and for the responsible manner in which he has dealt with this issue, under the guidance of his veterinary surgeon.

"He has acted professionally with the interests of the racing industry and the health of his horses as his priority.”

Quotes taken here >



Trainer Ian Williams speaking to the Redditch Advisor...

"It's very much business as usual for the yard but we'll be making sure we are taking precautions, following the guidelines from the BHA and keeping any horse we had at Ludlow or Wolverhampton in isolation."

"We were contacted by the BHA because we had runners at Wolverhampton and Ludlow and I'm sure we'll have to undergo the necessary testing. We do keep up very high barrier security here though and we have very vigilant staff."

"We all want to be racing but it's understandable the action that's been taken. The overall integrity of our sport is more important than anything else." 

Quotes taken from >



A statement from trainer, Donald McCain...

“I have been aware of the recent news about Equine Influenza outbreaks in France and Ireland, and over the last couple of days, I have been concerned about the health status of a small number of horses in the yard. Their welfare is at the front of our minds, so at my request, our veterinary surgeon has examined them regularly and we have followed his advice on testing and treatment. It was by following this protocol that the positive results for equine flu came to light yesterday evening. The BHA were contacted immediately and we are liaising closely with them about biosecurity and management of all the horses at Bankhouse.

“Bankhouse follows all the available advice on disease control and all our horses are fully inoculated. We are scrupulous about observing the health status of horses in our care and taking the necessary steps to treat any condition that may affect them. It follows we would never race any horses that we could have known were infected. Over the last two months, all potential runners have been scoped and their blood checked within 36 hours of their races to ensure that only healthy horses compete for the yard.

“When new horses arrive at our yard we, as much as possible, try to keep them separate but at this stage cannot know if the infection came from recent arrivals or from horses returning from racing. We have three confirmed cases and this morning have taken blood and swabs from all the others for testing.”

Donald McCain released a statement this afternoon after three of his horses tested positive for equine influenza.




Quotes from the Racing Post...

Paul Nicholls: "The two horses we ran at Ludlow yesterday – Tommy Silver and Miranda – have both been isolated as a precaution. At present it's just the one yard that is affected so hopefully it will stay that way."

"We had all our horses vaccinated at Christmas/New Year as is normal policy and that should have done its job."

Philip Hobbs: "Golden Sovereign ran in the final race at Ludlow on Wednesday in which the horse from the yard that is affected ran and we took him out of our yard at 7am this morning. He has been moved to a nearby livery yard,"

Harry Fry: "We have isolated Outofthisworld from the yard this morning as she ran at Ludlow on Wednesday. The horse stabled in the next box to her at the yard has also been moved away from the other horses as a precaution."

Nick Alexander: "We've already steam-cleaned and disinfected our lorries and all the clothing that the attendants wore and the clothing that the horses wore is all being done."

"We've done it just in case, it's got to be a million to one chance but we steam clean and disinfect our lorries about once a fortnight anyway so it's no hardship to do it extra."

"The horses' temperatures were all taken this morning and they'll be taken twice a day until they're past the incubation period, which I think is five days. So far the temperatures were all good."

Tom Lacey: "You're naturally worried when it's airborne. Everyone's holding on to the edge of their seat in hope - if your children are at school, you hope that they don't catch the bug that's going round."

"Our horses all ate up after racing, they've had their temperatures taken this morning and they're fine. You're nervous but what can one do?"

"We all need to keep a very rational head on and be sensible. Everyone needs to be ultra-cautious."

"It's not a time to panic and people need to be careful about speculation. It's not a national disaster, it's a mere annoyance and we'll all have to sort ourselves out and get through it the best we can."

Quotes taken here >


A statement from Cheltenham Racecourse...

"We are working with the BHA on this matter and hope that the early actions of the BHA will ensure that this outbreak of Equine Influenza can be contained.

"We look forward to racing resuming as soon as possible, and hope that this will be well in advance of The Festival in five weeks' time."

Quotes taken here >



AP McCoy talking to talkSPORT...

“I can remember it well in 2001 when we lost it to foot and mouth,”

“Losing something as huge as the Cheltenham Festival has a huge impact on the sport.

“But hopefully it won’t go on that long, hopefully they would have got hold of this pretty quick and get it sorted out as soon as possible.”

Quotes taken here >

Gordon Elliott had several runners at Ayr on Wednesday.


Gordon Elliott speaking via his Betfair blog...

"The horses we ran at Ayr yesterday never came back to our yard and instead went to a non-racing isolation yard that is about twenty five minutes away from where we are based.

"We've been told that the chances of this effecting our runners from yesterday is very remote but we can't take any chances whatsoever and those horses that went to Ayr will be quarantined as long as they have to be.

"Hopefully everything will get back to normal in Britain as quickly as possible but from our point of view it's business as usual and we're sending seven horses to Thurles today."




Trainer Warren Greatrex speaking to the Racing Post...

It is disappointing but you have to put things into perspective and this problem has to be sorted. We will do everything we can to help with what the BHA want us to do.

"I have spoken at length to my vet and been told the things I can do to be sure this doesn't spread. I don't know the length but these were horses who had been vaccinated so it is a big concern but we have to monitor everything closely.

"It is a worry but I know everyone will be doing everything they can to get this sorted as quick as possible."

Quotes taken from >


Racing correspondent Lee McKenzie speaking to talkSPORT this morning...

“Luckily the Cheltenham Festival is still five weeks away, so there is a bit of time to get something into the place and, who knows, it may blow over rather quickly."

“But at the moment you have to say that there is a possibility that could be the case."

“I remember back in 2001 when there was an incident of foot and mouth and the horse racing with severely affected by that and that did indeed end up with the postponement of the Cheltenham Festival."

“This is something different, though."

“Horses in one yard were discovered to have equine flu, they are vaccinated against this but the real problem is that they ran in races yesterday in two meetings – Ayr and Ludlow – and that means it could have spread to other horses and therefore into other yards, and just think how rapidly that could go through the horse population."

“It does mean that all the horses in their stable and also any horse that was at either of those two racecourses yesterday who have gone back to their own stables, you’re already starting to see a potentially rapid escalating problem.”

Quotes taken from >

Richard Fahey praised the swift action of the BHA.


Trainer Richard Fahey speaking to Sky Sports this morning...

"It's a very positive move. They will be trying to get to grips with how serious it is. It looks like it's an outbreak of Florida Clade 1, which we do vaccinate, but the worry was that there was some horses in the said yard that tested positive for this."

"England are world leaders in surveillance and diagnosis and at the moment I am sure they are getting to grips with what the problem is."

"In the next few days there will be some very busy people in the BHA and the Animal Health Trust seeing how serious this strain is."

"Until the BHA get to grips with the issue, I am sure the right decision was made."

"Realistically, all we can do is monitor our own stock. I've got 150-plus horses here and they are all as healthy as beans."

"The BHA sent out a letter, I think it was on January 19, that there was an outbreak, cases in France and Ireland, and just to be vigilant. By that they mean when horses come into the yard, just quarantine them off, make sure they don't have temperatures."

"If I had it in my yard at the moment I would know - they would be sick and down, not too keen to do anything. A bit like yourself if you had the flu, you just want to lie down and relax."

"We're more of a flat yard and in our off-season, but I'm sure it will have a huge effect on the jumps trainers and have a huge impact on them. I am sure there are yards who have horses bouncing, lads struggling to sit on them because they are so fresh and well, but the opportunity to race has been taken away from them."

"But going back, England are world leaders on this and until they get on top of it and make sure everything is okay, they will restrict movement of animals."

Quotes taken from >


Full BHA Statement

"Racing was shut down today as a precautionary measure to restrict the movement of thoroughbred race horses and prevent any further spread of the virus. This is a standard contingency in the event of an infectious disease affecting our horses. It was essential that racing be stood down today and controls on movements of horses be put in place in order to attempt to control the spread of the disease, and the decision was taken swiftly last night that this course of action should be taken, once the extent of the issue was known. The BHA consulted with its veterinary committee before making this decision."

"We will endeavour to issue regular information but we are still in the early stages of assessing the scale and severity of the outbreak. We are working quickly to identify the extent of the infection and will have more information when further test results are returned today. The results from those tests will not be known until this evening. Following these results being known a call will be convened to discuss the implications and a decision will then be made as to the impact on racing in the coming days."

"We are aware that people want to know the situation as regards racing tomorrow and this weekend and we will seek to provide more clarity as soon as we are able. It is likely that any definitive decisions on whether racing can take place tomorrow will be taken later this evening."

"We are contacting trainers of all yards which might conceivably have had contact with horses from the affected yard in order to advise them on biosecurity measures and to ask them not to move horses. We are also issuing guidance to the wider population of trainers. We are working closely with the National Trainers Federation to share this information and ensure that trainers are kept as informed as possible. Trainers are being sent a contact number should they have further questions, and they are advised to contact their vets with any further concerns."

"Anyone visiting a racing yard should exercise appropriate caution and check with a trainer before visiting, and trainers are advised to limit where possible the movement of people to and from their yard. There is a Code of Practice for dealing with infectious diseases on the website of the National Trainers Federation."

"All British race horses are vaccinated against equine influenza. However this strain has affected vaccinated horses. The disease may be serious in unvaccinated horses, although symptoms in vaccinated horses are usually mild and transient. Symptoms may include a raised temperature, a cough and nasal discharge. It is highly contagious. Humans are not at risk from the virus though can be transmitters of the virus."

"The situation here is not the same as the incident in Australia in 2007. Australian thoroughbreds are not vaccinated against influenza, while British thoroughbreds are, as the virus is endemic in the UK. Therefore an important barrier is in place to prevent the same situation occurring here. However, as we have seen in Europe, the virus has affected vaccinated horses in this case. The vaccine should however help reduce to a certain extent the effect and spread of the disease in thoroughbreds."

"This is a wider horse health issue which is not confined to horseracing. Unlike thoroughbreds in Britain, it is not compulsory for the wider horse population to be vaccinated against equine flu. Whilst the BHA is not specifically responsible for non-race-horses, the general advice to owners would be to contact your vet if you have concerns."

Full statement here >

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Equine influenza outbreak as it happened - News, developments and quotes as all racing postponed until Wednesday at the earliest

We bring you the latest quotes from trainers and experts alike, as the equine flu outbreak story continues to unfold on Thursday 7th February. Page will be updated throughout the day.

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