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Racing to resume on Wednesday with Ascot hosting bumper nine-race Saturday meeting

Jonathan Vine 12 Feb 2019
Saturday's Ascot Chase card will now be bolstered by the Denman Chase and the Betfair Hurdle.

Punters received the best news possible on Monday evening, with the BHA announcing racing would indeed resume on Wednesday and Ascot will host a nine-race card on Saturday afternoon.

As horse racing fans nervously waited for news from the BHA on Monday evening, most were filled with a confused sense of foreboding. 

Over the weekend, three further cases of equine influenza were discovered at Simon Crisford’s yard in the hubbub of British racing, Newmarket, causing many to fear for the upcoming Cheltenham Festival. Yet, after the HRI declared they had lifted the ban on British horses venturing over to Ireland, some thought it was only a matter of time before we were cleared to race.

Thankfully, for the sake of the sport, the latter was announced at 11.30pm last night. After six days of lockdown, Britain will resume all forms of racing on Wednesday afternoon.

“After analysis of thousands of samples, and no further positive tests on Monday, we still have only 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.” Said chief regulatory officer for the BHA, Brant Dunshea.

"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."



"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," said Dunshea.

"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."

Nicky Henderson, and many others in the sport, feared a further delay in the resumption of racing would cause massively impact the spring meetings at Cheltenham and Aintree. Trainers will now have to provide evidence that their horses are no longer in danger, or those who have been infected have been isolated successfully, but once they have submitted the appropriate forms, it seems the Cheltenham Festival band-wagon is back up to full speed.

Before we can focus solely on “the greatest show on turf”, there’s a bumper weekend of action to look forward to at Ascot this Saturday. Their popular Ascot Chase card has now been bolstered by both the Denman Chase and the Betfair Handicap Hurdle – races which were due to take place at Newbury the previous weekend.

The Mares’ Hurdle, which was also scheduled to take place at Newbury, will now be staged at Haydock Park, while the Kingmaker Novices’ Chase has been rescheduled to take place at Sandown on Friday.

Full List of Rescheduled Races


15/2/19 Sandown - Kingmaker Novices' Chase (from Warwick)

16/2/19 Ascot - Betfair Hurdle (from Newbury)

16/2/19 Ascot - Denman Chase - Ascot (from Newbury)

16/2/19 Haydock - Mares' Hurdle - Haydock Park (from Warwick)

16/2/19 Wincanton - Mares' Chase - Wincanton (from Exeter)
 


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Racing to resume on Wednesday with Ascot hosting bumper nine-race Saturday meeting

Punters received the best news possible on Monday evening, with the BHA announcing racing would indeed resume on Wednesday 13th February and Ascot will host a nine-race card on Saturday afternoon.

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