Al Shaqab's Herbert worried over virus at Rouget yard
Al Shaqab Racing manager Harry Herbert yesterday said the virus that has led to one of the barns of leading French trainer Jean-Claude Rouget being put into quarantine was "a real worry".
Herbert confirmed Al Shaqab's Group 1 winner Zelzal is stabled in the Pau yard, where European champion Almanzor is also housed, but is not among the 27 horses affected by what is believed to be an outbreak of equine herpes virus (EHV-1) from which two horses have died.
Herbert said: "We have about five or six horses in that particular barn including Zelzal. It's a real worry. We have to see how it plays out and we are still waiting for more news.
"According to Jean-Claude it is only in one barn. Zelzal is the most important horse [of ours] involved, being a Group 1 winner. It's a big worry for Jean-Claude and the vets are still trying to get a handle on the whole thing."
The rest of Rouget's string are stabled on two other sites. They have shown no signs of the virus and are allowed to race with the stable claiming a Group 3 victory at Chantilly on Sunday.
Herbert said: "I think those horses who have not been in contact are still allowed to race provided they are kept in isolation at the racetrack. It's good that fillies like Middle East and Mekhtaal can race as normal."
Rouget said Alcoy and Mille Pieds had both died as a result of the virus which attacks the spinal cord and causes paralysis, but said he hoped the situation was "heading in the right direction".
Hamdan Al Maktoum also supports the trainer and racing manager Angus Gold said: "Everybody is concerned, none more so than Jean-Claude and his staff. They are doing their very best and we just have to hope. We haven't lost a horse yet. The situation was better when I spoke to him yesterday. Let's hope they come good."