Nicky Henderson: the repercussions of this shutdown are unthinkable
More than 100 yards, including those of leading trainers Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls, have been put into lockdown by the BHA as the governing body seeks to contain the outbreak of equine influenza.
Champion trainer Henderson revealed he had ordered vets to arrive before dawn on Friday to carry out tests and stressed the importance of getting to grips with the situation immediately.
He said: "The repercussions of this are unthinkable as we could be without racing for weeks, months or longer – who knows? It's important that this problem is sorted straight away one way or the other.
"We have a team of vets coming in at 6am on Friday morning to take nasal swabs from every horse in the yard and my wife Sophie will then take the swabs straight to Newmarket so that we can find out where we stand as, in common with many other trainers, I want and need to know."
Despite a mild winter that has allowed bugs to fester longer than is often the case, Henderson was pleased with what he saw from his string on Thursday morning.
He added: "It's been a horribly mild and mucky winter and we have had the usual issues with some horses in the yard like many other trainers, as there is never a day in a year when 100 per cent of your horses are 100 per cent.
"I suggest it's better to start with a smile and we schooled 30 or so horses at home this morning and they all seemed well enough in themselves."
As well Henderson, any British-based trainers who had runners at Ayr or Ludlow on Wednesday or Wolverhampton on Monday will have their entire string tested on Friday.
No declarations for runners will be accepted from the trainers in question until all horses have been given the all-clear.
On Thursday the BHA outlined plans to contact trainers of all 106 yards that might “conceivably have had contact with horses from the affected yard” in order to advise them on biosecurity measures and to ask them not to move horses.
The Racing Post has seen one such correspondence to a senior trainer, which states restrictions are being placed on all yards that saddled runners at the meetings at Ayr, Ludlow and Wolverhampton.
The letter states that under rule (C)30, a trainer must not remove, or allow to be removed, any horse under their care or control from the premises until directed otherwise by the BHA, while they have been instructed that veterinary samples are to be taken from all horses on their premises on Friday and sent to the Animal Health Trust.
All meetings in Britain scheduled for Thursday were cancelled after three confirmed cases of equine influenza from vaccinated horses at the yard of Donald McCain, who saddled runners at the meetings at Ayr, Ludlow and Wolverhampton.
A later announcement on Thursday confirmed the earliest racing would resume in Britain would be next Wednesday. Those stables put into lockdown will not be allowed to declare runners until the results of Friday’s tests are revealed.
According to the BHA: "Trainers whose horses may have come into contact with affected horses will be contacted on Thursday and will need to quarantine all horses in the yard."This means that these horses must have no contact with any other equines until restrictions are lifted. This is likely to be until samples have been taken from horses and negative test results received."
Gold Cup-winning trainer Jonjo O'Neill was among those to be contacted by the BHA after fielding runners the previous day and his string of more than 100 horses will now be tested.
"We've received an email saying we are shut down until all the horses here have been tested, which is around 110 at the moment,” said the trainer.
“We had two runners at Ludlow and they came back fine. We did move them to the other yard for isolation but to no avail."
John Berry, who ran The Rocket Park at Ludlow on Wednesday, said: "We're having to have everything tested and aren't allowed to have any runners until further notice. We're acting as if we're under suspicion of having it, but I'm so clear in my mind that we don't that I'm not concerned.
"The horse is totally fine. I'm pretty sure we'd left Ludlow before the affected horse arrived. We're being treated as if we were in the same place at the same time, but I don't think they were.”
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