We are delighted to be able to return to the track tomorrow; below is an abstract of the BHA's rationale behind the decision which I hope helps to put this into the right context; although we haven't been able fulfil our running plans over the six days our training regime has been essentially unaffected, as has the overall health of the string.
We hope to be running Black Truffle (making his 101st start on the racecourse!!) in Kempton's seven furlong Handicap, the last race on their evening card. With Spring just around the corner and the much better weather over this week and next things are definitely on the up!!
Racing will wake up to good news on Tuesday after an unsettling week and nervy Monday night while the BHA wrestled with letting racing resume following the equine flu outbreak.
Last Thursday morning many awoke to find racing had been cancelled due to the flu alert and the following Monday was quickly identified by the BHA as D-Day for a decision on whether six days would amount to a sufficient shutdown period.
An industry veterinary committee was key to the cessation of racing, and the same committee gave the BHA confidence to lift the ban late on Monday night.
The BHA statement added: "This decision to return racing in a controlled, risk-managed manner was unanimously supported by the industry veterinary committee."
Brant Dunshea, BHA's chief regulatory officer, said: "After analysis of thousands of samples, and no further positive tests on Monday, we still only have two confirmed sites of infection. We have put robust containment measures in place around both.
“From the testing and analysis conducted the disease appears to be contained at present.
"Clearly, there is some risk associated with returning to racing. This risk has been assessed and, based on the evidence - and ensuring biosecurity measures are in place – the level of risk is viewed as acceptable."
The veterinary committee
David Sykes (Chair) – BHA
Alasdair Topp – Association of Racecourse Veterinary Surgeons
Amanda Piggot – BHA
Antony Clements – British Equine Veterinary Association
Clive Hamblin – NTF
Charlie Pinkham – ROA
Dr Richard Newton – Animal Health Trust
James Wigan – Independent
Prof Sidney Ricketts – TBA
Simon Knapp – RCA
The Animal Health Trust has been in the midst of analysing thousands of equine nasal swabs from racehorses in Britain, and optimism had been raised of racing returning following two batches of swabs, numbering well over 1,000, coming back negative through the weekend.
Late on Sunday night hopes looked to have been dealt a blow when it was revealed there had been four positive tests for the highly contagious virus from Simon Crisford's Newmarket yard.
That took the total number of known cases in racing yards to ten, following six positives from Donald McCain's Cheshire base.
Crisford's stable was one of 174 to be placed in lockdown, in his case because he had a runner at Newcastle last Tuesday, after which Sedgefield trainer Rebecca Menzies, who had also had runners at the meeting, reported a 'suspicious' case.
However, all the horses at Menzies' yard subsequently tested negative for equine flu and Crisford revealed the test on his runner at Newcastle – Sajanjl – has returned negative as well.