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Fresh blow to horse racing as new cases of equine flu found

Sky News logo Sky News 11/02/2019
a man riding a horse jumping over a fence: Equine influenza spreads quickly through horses coughing or contaminated equipment © Reuters Equine influenza spreads quickly through horses coughing or contaminated equipment

Four new cases of equine flu have been reported, potentially dashing hopes British horse racing could resume this week.

It had been thought the sport would restart on Wednesday.

The new cases were identified in vaccinated thoroughbreds at the Newmarket yard of trainer Simon Crisford, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) said late on Sunday.

Racing has been on an enforced six-day shutdown since Thursday after an initial three cases were found at Donald McCain's stable in Cheshire. This has risen to six cases.

© PA

In a statement, the BHA said Mr Crisford's 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 5 February, which had been identified as a potential risk fixture".

"At the moment the affected horses are all contained within this yard," it added.

A further statement will be made on Monday, with a decision on whether racing will be pushed back further than Wednesday.

© Getty

The strain of equine flu which has halted UK horse racing is the same one which shut down racing in Australia for three months in 2007, affecting more than 10,000 horses.

British horse racing is worth £3.45bn, according to a 2013 report by Deloitte.

In 2001, an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease prompted a suspension of racing for two months in Britain.

Watch: Trainer reacts to horse racing ban (ITN)

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