BHA chief executive gives equine flu update
BHA chief executive, Nick Rust, gave an update on the outbreak of equine flu when interviewed on ITV’s Good Morning Britain today. He said: “By Monday we’ll be in a strong position to make a definitive decision about when racing will return. I don’t know whether we’ll need a few more days or not but I strongly believe this will be for a few weeks at most because we’ve acted quickly.
“We’ve got to get a hold of the situation swiftly – if we play russian roulette with the evidence we’ve got we could have a problem for three to six months and no-one would thank us for that.
“This is a serious form of flu that debilitates horses, who are at the centre of our sport. The welfare of our horses is really paramount above all economics.
“Our worst fears are that we don’t contain it quickly, but by taking the action we have in the last couple of days we’re effectively locking down movement of racehorses and instructing trainers to take extra special precautions.
“We’re fairly confident that with swift action we will manage to restrict it, but until we know the full extent of the distribution of the virus, we won’t know where we are.Rust believes the sport has a “very good chance” of beating the flu off with preparations under way for the potential rescheduling of key races from this weekend.
“Racehorses are among the best looked after animals in the country and super athletes. They have attention from their trainers and the 14,000 people that look after them every day, as well as veterinary checks all the time, so we’re on top of this, and the reason we have discovered the equine flu is because of that care and attention.
“We’ve got a very good chance of managing this flu off and not concerned we’re facing a mutation.
“A lab in Newmarket is processing hundreds of tests now and as those results come back we start to map them to see whether horses have been infected at the races this week. Once we know whether there has been a spread or not, we’ll be in a much better position to know where racing is.
“We’re making preparations for alternative arrangements so that when racing returns there will be alternative races in place for horses who have missed prep runs for Cheltenham or Aintree.”