The UK horseracing sector is now in crisis. Hours before a shutdown of the industry was to be reviewed, four positive tests for equine influenza were returned in vaccinated thoroughbreds at Newmarket.
Estimates put the losses at 2 million sterling per day.
So the latest cases at Simon Crisford’s yard in Newmarket couldn't come at a worse time.
The sport’s governing body has to decide 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 flu to 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, giving rise to widespread concern.
According to the BHA “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.''
Newmarket is the largest training centre in Britain with around 80 trainers overseeing in the region of 3,000 horses and containment is now key.
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.
The latest discovery is a major setback as the industry attempts to prevent the spread of the highly contagious illness.
The virus is generally not thought to be life-threatening, but limits the competitive capability of horses.
An unvaccinated non-thoroughbred horse was put down in Suffolk after developing complications following an outbreak of equine influenza.
All of this is very worrying for personnel involved in any capacity in Ireland or the UK.