Horse Racing

Concerns For Cheltenham Grow As Second Stable Reports Equine Flu

Concerns For Cheltenham Grow As Second Stable Reports Equine Flu

Can you imagine your 10-year-old self being told that there's even the slightest likelihood that Christmas was to be cancelled?

Well, even the mere whispering of Cheltenham being in danger is enough to make 'adult me' (a lot less healthier than 'little me', it has to be said) slip dangerously close to cardiac arrest.

News this evening that a second yard has reported a positive test for equine flu amongst their horses is doing nothing to calm the situation.

It was confirmed last night that three horses from Donald McCain's Bankhouse Stables had contracted the highly contagious disease, two of which ran in Wednesday's meetings at Ayr and Ludlow.

In an effort to contain the spread, the BHA announced yesterday that all racing on the British mainland was to be suspended to at the very minimum next Wednesday, February 12th, with a decision to be taken thereafter as to the best course of action to follow. Racing in Ireland did, however, take place yesterday at Thurles, and again this afternoon at the Tipperary circuit, as well as the all-weather track at Dundalk.

In the past few minutes, it has been reported by The Times that three more horses, in the Durham yard of Rebecca Menzies are also showing symptoms of the influenza A  strain, having been swabbed by veterinary personnel.

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The British Racing Authority has yet to confirm the diagnosis, but are expected to make an official announcement tomorrow, with an update on the epidemic.

For the moment, Menzies has confirmed that her horses have been isolated.

Should yards be unable to contain the virus, the scaremongering whisperings could quickly grow to clamourous panic, just four and a half weeks out from the Festival's opening race.

Jumps racings most prestigious meeting has only ever been cancelled on one occasion, 18 years back, as a localised outbreak of another farmyard disease, foot-and-mouth, broke out close to the Prestbury Park course.

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Aaron Strain

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