Equine flu temporarily shuts down horse racing in Britain

Monday February 11 2019

Jockey Timmy Murphy

Jockey Timmy Murphy on Comply or Die (left) jumps the last fence ahead of Snowy Morning ridden by David Casey to win the Grand National Steeple chase on the final day of the Grand National meeting at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, northern England, April 5, 2008. PHOTO | PHIL NOBLE | REUTERS  

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The Horseracing Authority has confirmed six cases of equine influenza, triggering cancellation of all racing in Britain for the next several days, and complete shutdown of training yards across Britain.

Trainer Donald McCain said his stable was the source of this outbreak.

More than 100 trainers have placed their yards into quarantine as BHA vets discuss with them the risk of any further spread.

Wolverhampton is one of three racecourses doing a “deep clean”. Equine influenza is highly contagious and thousands of horses can be affected in a single outbreak. Horses remain infectious for about a week.

The BHA is expected to announce plans for resuming racing, but for now, all competition has been halted.


Equine influenza, is a highly contagious respiratory infection. An infected horse will show clinical signs similar to those of human flu. Although rarely fatal, it can have a huge impact on the sport, and, breeding, due to restriction of horse movements.

Racehorses are among the best looked after animals in the country and super athletes. They receive constant attention from 14,000 people who look after them daily, as well as constant veterinary checks, to prevent mutation.

Chances of racing resuming received a boost when no new cases were reported. Those desperate for normal service to be restored, will be cheered by results from the Animal Health Trust (AHT), as a batch of over 700 equine nasal swabs did not uncover any more positive tests.


The virus now identified as the Florida Clade 1 strain, rather than the Clade 2 strain endemic to Europe. Florida Clade 1 strain, is endemic to North and South America, with this year's batch considered more virulent, explaining why some are affected, despite being vaccinated.

A huge portion of Nairobi's population, gamble on overseas racing, in various outlets across the city. This destroys their hobby of reading the form, and, having fun at the same time.

As usual, there are always those who will complain, suggesting there is a strong dose of over-reaction in place. Don't worry about the Cheltenham Festival in March. That will definitely go ahead.