A scary moment is over; Point-to-Pointing returns to normal following flu outbreak

Racing resumed yesterday and Point to Pointing will go ahead this weekend according to present BHA requirements. Most of the affected fixtures have rescheduled, and the countdown to the Avon Vale Races on Saturday March 30 remains unchanged.

After consultation with its veterinary committee, and based on the latest tests conducted by the Animal Health Trust, the BHA’s Chief Regulatory Officer, Brant Dunshea, confirmed on Tuesday evening that racing could resume, but only with strict biosecurity controls in place.

This decision to return racing in a controlled, risk-managed manner was unanimously supported by the industry veterinary committee. Brant Dunshea said,“Our approach since hearing about the first positive results last Wednesday has been based on accumulating as much information as we could as quickly as possible so we could properly understand the risks of this virulent strain of flu spreading to more horses. That would be harmful to them and damaging to any trainers’ yards that became infected.

It has also been our intention to ensure that we avoid an issue that could result in a long-term disruption to racing with the risk of many of our major events being unduly impacted. 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. The BHA veterinary committee believe that the swift controls on movement that were put in place have clearly helped to restrict the spread of this virus.

There have been significant logistical issues associated with testing and processing so many tests in such a short space of time. Fortunately, owing to the tireless efforts of the Animal Health Trust, trainers and their local vets, and BHA staff, the vast majority of yards which had been placed on hold will be in a position to resume racing.

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.”

New BHA preventative requirements for horses running in Point-to-Point fixtures will ensure that no entries or declarations will be accepted from horses that have not been vaccinated in the previous six months. This requirement will be in place until further notice. Please note that the normal stipulation that the vaccination must not have been given on the day of racing or any of the six days prior to the day of the race as according to Regulation 36 (ii), still applies. BHA has further ordered that on arrival at the racecourse, the responsible person (To be confirmed but probably Owner, Keeper or Authorised to Act) must provide the horse’s passport with proof of vaccination and date; confirmation that they have taken the horse’s temperature that morning and provision of that temperature and a Health Declaration form to be signed there and then in front of members of the Fixture (The Form will be made available to all participants) for all equines on board before the ramp can be lowered. This above procedure is the Owner’s responsibility. He/she does not require a vet to carry out the health checks before making the Declaration.

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