The BHA on Tuesday announced that it intends to schedule additional alternative races to assist trainers in their preparation for upcoming major festivals for horses that may miss out on essential prep or qualifying runs in the coming 10 days owing to the new vaccination requirements.
The additional opportunities will be scheduled on or around the weekend of 23 February, in order that horses which require vaccinations over the coming days will be eligible to run. Like all other British races they will only be available to horses who have been vaccinated within the last six months.
It was agreed that, if racing was to return, there should be stringent biosecurity measures put in place to protect the welfare of the breed and reduce the chance of further disruption. The sport is taking a measured risk by returning to racing this quickly, and for that risk to be deemed manageable then it was necessary that protective measures should be put in place. This includes the fact that horses that have not been vaccinated in the last six months should not be allowed to run. Put simply – without this we would not be racing. It could open the sport up to an unacceptable level of risk.
The science is unequivocal that vaccines help reduce the effect and spread of equine influenza. This was a view that was stated by Dr Richard Newton – the Animal Health Trust’s world-leading expert in this field – and supported unanimously by the experts on the veterinary committee.
Trainers had been advised on 25 January that, due to the concerning situation in Europe where outbreaks have occurred in vaccinated horses, and an unprecedented number of cases in unvaccinated non-thoroughbreds in Britain, all horses which have not had a vaccination against equine influenza within the last six months should receive a booster vaccination.
We appreciate that the six-day mandatory stand down period following vaccination, which is a welfare measure on behalf of the horse, will mean that some horses who were not subsequently vaccinated will not be able to run for a short period. However, to ensure a level playing field it would have been necessary to cancel all racing for a further period of at least a week.
This requirement is similar, though slightly less stringent, than the measure recently introduced by Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) that no horse should be allowed to run unless it has received a booster vaccination in the last eight weeks. The Irish equivalent included a short grace period, which was not deemed appropriate in terms of the level of risk in Britain based on the evidence submitted to the veterinary committee.
The BHA is committed to the return to racing whilst minimising the risk of equine influenza spreading further within the sport, causing further disruption. This is our main priority. We recognised in making the decision last night that some participants could be disadvantaged and we are doing what we can to mitigate that without compromising the management of the outbreak.
Details of the re-scheduled Jump pattern and Listed races due to take place in the coming days.
Entries previously made for the four races below will not stand. New entries will close at 12 noon on Wednesday 13 February, with declarations as normal at the 24-hour stage.
Date Course Day Race Total prize fund
15/02/2019 Sandown Fri Kingmaker £32,000
16/02/2019 Ascot Sat Denman £50,000
16/02/2019 Haydock Sat Mares' Hurdle £20,000
16/02/2019 Wincanton Sat Mares' Chase £25,000
The Betfair Hurdle will revert to the original entry/weights stage and the weights published date will remain the same, as will any penalties incurred. This race will also declare at the 24-hour stage, on Friday 15 February.
Date Course Day Race Total prize fund
16/02/2019 Ascot Sat Betfair Hurdle £85,000
Race programme, times and further fixture information for the above fixtures will be available via the Racing Admin site www2.racingadmin.co.uk shortly.
The BHA would like to thank the Horserace Betting Levy Board, Ascot and Jockey Club Racecourses for their assistance in re-staging these races.
Updates specifically in relation to qualifying races for a number of Jump race series in order to make up for lost opportunities.
These take the form of one additional race:
Exeter 22 February
Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Class 2) (Qualifier) (2m 7f)
And two existing races which are now eligible to divide:
Doncaster 20 February
Sky Sports Racing Sky 415 EBF 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle (Class 4) (Qualifier) (2m 3½f)
Warwick 22 February
British Stallion Studs EBF Mares' Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Class 5) (Qualifier for the EBF Mares' NHF Series) (2m)
Further evaluation of the impact of recent events on the race programme will be ongoing in the coming days in order to quantify any need for additional races and/or fixtures.