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New cases of equine flu

Simon-CrisfordFour positive tests for equine influenza have been returned in vaccinated thoroughbreds at the yard of Simon Crisford (pictured) in Newmarket, the BHA has announced.

The news broke less than 24 hours before the sport’s governing body is set todecide whether racing in Britain will resume on Wednesday following a six-day shutdown.

The quartet of positives takes the total confirmed number of thoroughbreds testing positive for equine fluto ten, after six horses from the Donald McCain yard were found to have contracted the virus.

However, the new cases appear to be unconnected to the McCain positives, since the two trainers' horses have not recently run at the same meeting.

The BHA statement read: “The horse racing community in Newmarket is tonight being informed that four positive tests for equine influenza have been returned this evening in vaccinated thoroughbreds at the yard of a licensed Flat trainer in Newmarket.

“The affected yard is that of Simon Crisford, who has been named in order to ensure that the Newmarket community is aware of the yard at which an infection has been identified.

“This yard is one of the 174 which has been required to undergo testing due to the fact that runners from the stable competed at the fixture at Newcastle on February 5, which had been identified as a potential risk fixture. At the moment the affected horses are all contained within this yard."

The Newcastle fixture last Tuesday had been identified by the BHA as a risk because horses from the Rebecca Menzies yard, which reported a 'suspicious' case, had run there. However, all the horses at Menzies' yard subsequently tested negative for equine flu.

Crisford, formerly racing manager for Godolphin, trains at Kremlin House in Newmarket and sent out Sajanjl, who finished fourth as the 10-11 favourite in the mile novice stakes, at the Newcastle meeting.

It is unclear whetherthe filly is one of the four horses to have returned a positive test.

The statement continued: “The Newmarket community – including licensed trainers, veterinary surgeries, farriers, racing school and all other relevant bodies – are being advised to continue to show increased vigilance in biosecurity.

“This information is being relayed to the Newmarket community immediately in order to ensure that appropriate action can be taken ahead of any morning activities. The BHA will be in further contact with Newmarket trainers.

“A further update will be issued as early as possible tomorrow. This will include further details of action that is being taken off the back of this incident, and how the process will operate for the decision which will be made tomorrow evening regarding whether it is possible to resume racing on Wednesday, February 13.”

The new case of equine influenza in Newmarket, where there are around 80 licenced trainers overseeing in the region of 3,000 horses, is a setback as the industry attempts to prevent the spread of the highly contagious illness.

The Animal Health Trust is checking for further cases of equine flu and is in the midst of testing nasal swabs taken from the numerous yards that are currently in lockdown.

Analysis remains ongoing, with more swabs being returned all the time, and on Saturday5,000 extra swabs were distributed to trainers to assist with the logistical challenges of testingso many horses.

The potential seriousness of equine flu was underlined when the AHT revealed that a non-thoroughbred, unvaccinated horse had been put down after contracting the virus.

The BHAis set to announce on Monday whether racing can begin again on Wednesday after a six-day shutdown.

11 February 2019

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