British horse racing resumes after equine flu outbreak

Horse racing is set to resume in Britain after an outbreak of equine flu stopped the sport for six days.

A “risk-managed return to racing” will start Wednesday with four scheduled meetings, according to British racing’s governing body, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA).

The entire sport went into shutdown after six vaccinated horses from the same yard tested positive for the virus last week.

An additional four horses developed flu at a separate location.

“After analysis of thousands of samples, and no further positive tests on Monday, we still only have two confirmed sites of infection. We have put robust containment measures in place around both,” read a statement from the BHA’s chief regulatory officer, Brant Dunshea.

The outbreak put at risk the Cheltenham Festival, the pinnacle of jump racing, which is set to start on March 12.

What is equine flu?

Equine influenza is a highly infectious disease that can affect horses, mules and donkeys across the world.

The disease — which can cause respiratory problems — usually spreads between horses in close contact and can be airborne across short distances.

Although chances of fatality are low in healthy thoroughbreds, young foals and unhealthy horses are in danger of complications.

There are no known consequences for humans exposed to the flu.

“Clearly, there is some risk associated with returning to racing,” the statement continued.

“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.”


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