Last Updated: 12/02/19 8:36am
British Horseracing Authority chief executive Nick Rust says an “unprecedented level of equine flu” justified the six-day shutdown of racing.
The BHA announced late on Monday that racing would resume on Wednesday, after cancelling all events in the wake of positive tests at Donald McCain’s Cheshire yard.
Six horses trained by McCain returned positive tests with a further four at Simon Crisford’s Newmarket stable also suffering with the illness, but Rust says it is now safe to resume.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday morning, he said: “The decision last week was taken with a set of circumstances that suggested to us that we should lock down racing for several days so we could have a clear picture of the circumstances around the outbreak.
“There is an unprecedented level of equine flu at the moment, that was one of the considerations.
“We were concerned about the threat of this and the impact and disruption it would have on racing in the longer term, if we didn’t understand it fully.
“We have done several thousand tests since then, swabs from 140-odd stables from across the country.
“We are pleased it is contained to two yards and that, under certain controls, we can return to racing.
“We didn’t want to take any risks with future race meetings and with all known advice, we took the decision we did in the best interests of returning to racing.”
Chief regulatory officer Brant Dunshea outlined the protocols for what the BHA has described as “risk-managed return” to racing.
He said: “Security measures will include all horses being required to submit a health declaration, that the horse has shown no symptoms of equine flu in the last 14 days.
“That documentation will need to be with BHA officials at the racecourse before the horse can be unloaded.
“All horses running will be required to have been vaccinated six months before the race day – this will increase the level of immunity by ensuring the vaccinations mitigate horses contracting the virus.
“There will be ongoing monitoring and surveillance by our welfare officers, in addition to that we will be requiring any runners coming in from overseas to provide documentation of a negative test inside the last 72 hours.”