British runners given go ahead to race in Ireland

Clerk of Ludlow Racecourse Simon Sherwood said a deep clean is under way   Racing at Ludlow has been suspended   Hunting has been hit by the outbreak

A total of six horses have now tested positive at the McCain yard and they were joined late on Sunday by four in the Newmarket stable of trainer Simon Crisford.

Racing at Fontwell Park will go ahead as planned on Thursday after the British Horseracing Authority announced a ban on the sport following an outbreak of equine flu was lifted. Articles appear on euronews.com for a limited time.

This decision to return racing in a controlled, risk-managed manner was unanimously supported by the industry veterinary committee. However, the BHA said racing would only resume with "strict biosecurity controls in place". 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.

Dunshea acknowledged that "there is some risk associated with returning to racing" but the level of this risk was "viewed as acceptable" given the evidence and the aforementioned biosecurity measures.

The BHA will then review the declarations to ensure none are entered which do not meet risk criteria.

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Menzies' horses have subsequently returned negative results for equine flu, while Crisford confirmed his Newcastle runner, Sajanjl, is also clear of the virus.

If racing does return on Wednesday, the BHA said declarations for any fixtures stages will be made at 10:00 GMT on Tuesday.

Racing has continued in Ireland, without British runners, but the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board said: 'Runners from Great Britain will be permitted to race in Ireland with immediate effect provided they comply with the IHRB requirements'. "This is not a typical endemic period and it was essential that precautions be taken to protect the horse population". Meanwhile, the UK's key race meeting, the four-day Cheltenham Festival, runs next month and is one of the biggest betting events of the year, with bookmakers handling around £400 million ($515 million).

In a statement, Crisford said: "None of the four horses that have returned positive tests for equine influenza displayed any clinical signs of respiratory illness, including nasal discharge and elevated temperatures, prior to the mandatory swabbing that was undertaken last Friday, February 8".

The authority also confirmed that testing had been carried out on the remaining 27 horses from the yard of Rebecca Menzies - where testing of three suspected cases came back negative on Saturday.

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