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Equine Influenza update

Entry Fees

With the reintroduction of racing from Wednesday 13, February, the BHA has clarified the position over two situations where entry fees will be refunded.

  • Where an owner has a horse in training with a trainer who remains or is placed "on hold" at the time of declaration due to ongoing testing protocols then their entries will be expunged, and entry fees refunded. 
  • Where an owner has a horse in training with a trainer who is not "on hold", but the horse they wish to declare has not had the specified vaccination within the last 6 months, as set out in the BHA's latest guidance, these trainers need to contact the Weatherbys helpdesk on 01933 440011 to scratch their horse. Weatherbys will expunge the entry manually and initiate the refund of the entry fee. 

Trainers whose yards are currently "on hold" will be updated daily, so owners should note that refunds will only apply where the above reasons noted above are valid at the time of declaration each day. 

As a reminder, the ROA has previously confirmed with the BHA that no entry fees, entry handling or processing fees or jockey fees will be payable on entries for any races cancelled due to the Equine Influenza outbreak. Owners that have already been charged will have their fees refunded in full.

BHA to schedule additional opportunities for horses missing out on key prep races due to essential vaccination requirements

The BHA announced today it intends to schedule additional alternative races to assist trainers in their preparation for upcoming major festivals for horses that may miss out on essential prep or qualifying runs in the coming 10 days owing to the new vaccination requirements.
The additional opportunities will be scheduled on or around the weekend of 23 February, in order that horses which require vaccinations over the coming days will be eligible to run. Like all other British races, they will only be available to horses who have been vaccinated within the last six months.

Please note that all other vaccination requirements within the BHA Rules of Racing continue to apply, including (E)18.6

 (18.6 None of the vaccinations must have been given on the day of a race in which the horse is declared to run or on any of the 6 days before the race)


Of those 195 declarations, a number of horses have been withdrawn at this stage. This is a precaution where the BHA has not received notification that the horse or yard is free of the equine influenza virus. 

The BHA is working with the affected trainers to explain what steps will be required in order to move their yards – or horses from their yards – to cleared status. The BHA wants to assess more data from the yards who had runners at Ayr before the yards who had runners are cleared. This is being treated as a priority by the AHT.

In any cases where the declarations cannot be cleared, the horses will be declared non-runners in the morning.

List of provisional declarations will not be posted and the official release of declarations for Thursday’s racing is expected to be at 1.30pm. Jockey bookings for Thursday will be accepted until 2.15pm on Wednesday 14 February. Declarations for Flat Racing on Friday 15 February will close at10am on Thursday 14 February.


Vaccination requirement was an essential criterion for the resumption of racing

It was agreed that, if racing was to return, there should be stringent biosecurity measures put in place to protect the welfare of the breed and reduce the chance of further disruption. The sport is taking a measured risk by returning to racing this quickly, and for that risk to be deemed manageable then it was necessary that protective measures should be put in place. This includes the fact that horses that have not been vaccinated in the last six months should not be allowed to run.
The science is unequivocal that vaccines help reduce the effect and spread of equine influenza. This was a view that was stated by Dr Richard Newton – the Animal Health Trust’s world-leading expert in this field – and supported unanimously by the experts on the veterinary committee.
Trainers had been advised on 25 January that, due to the concerning situation in Europe where outbreaks have occurred in vaccinated horses, and an unprecedented number of cases in unvaccinated non-thoroughbreds in Britain, all horses which have not had a vaccination against Equine Influenza within the last six months should receive a booster vaccination.  
The BHA appreciates that the six-day mandatory stand down period following vaccination, which is a welfare measure on behalf of the horse, will mean that some horses who were not subsequently vaccinated will not be able to run for a short period. However, to ensure a level playing field it would have been necessary to cancel all racing for a further period of at least a week.

This requirement is similar, though slightly less stringent, than the measure recently introduced by Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) that no horse should be allowed to run unless it has received a booster vaccination in the last eight weeks. The Irish equivalent included a short grace period, which was not deemed appropriate in terms of the level of risk in Britain based on the evidence submitted to the veterinary committee.
The BHA is committed to the return to racing whilst minimising the risk of equine influenza spreading further within the sport, causing further disruption. This is our main priority. We recognised in making the decision last night that some participants could be disadvantaged, and we are doing what we can to mitigate that without compromising the management of the outbreak.

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