The news of a further four positive test of Equine Influenza in Newmarket was not what anyone wanted or had hope to wake to this morning. When the news broke last week I received a text from an owner who has been with me since day dot. He asked “what’s going on”. My response was “they are going to dig a hole they won’t get out of it in a hurry”. When trainers talk about bugs it is essentially a strain of equine flu and in reality, it never goes away. It is impossible to have such a population of horses throughout the country with no bugs during the course of the year.
I fully supported their decision to stop racing and still do. However, what has happened since was predicted by every trainer in the country and every vet working at the coalface day in day out.
The BHA needed time to gather their thoughts, no one was going to begrudge them that. They reacted without considering the practicalities or the ramifications. There are historic cases none of which seem to have been considered. This is not herpes or strangles, this is something trainers deal with all too frequently. In 2003, over a two-month period, there was reportedly 1,300 positives tests in Newmarket. Racing didn’t stop and trainers in Newmarket were still training winners.
I have worked in flat yards through winter months and have seen, first hand horses suffering with a serious onset of equine influenza, no matter what the strain was. The mucus on the stables walls would lead you to believe that children had been in them flicking paint brushes covered in green and yellow glue.
There was a huge lack of practical understanding behind their decision and I wait in anticipation to see how an earth they are going to get us back to business. The BHA claim to have been in constant talks with HRI (Horseracing Ireland) but failed to agree with their policy of continuing racing with increased biosecurity. The only way they can possibly start racing again is by issuing a revised health risk associated with the findings they have to date.
I will be fast asleep when they make their next announcement after 10.30 p.m. this evening. Well, if the truth be told, I will probably struggle to go to sleep without knowing. Let’s hope for some common sense and a creditable statement in the hope we can get back to business.
Typical Monday morning canters for the horses, ours certainly don’t appear to be under any cloud, the bucking and squealing wasn’t in short supply. We are still waiting for our test results to be returned and remain in lockdown. We are still making entries in the hope we are given the all clear and racing resumes, if not before, at the weekend.