Racing to resume on Wednesday 13 February

11/02/2019 @ 23:15:00

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) tonight announced a risk-managed return to racing will take place from Wednesday this week.

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, tonight confirmed 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.”

As such the BHA has confirmed that two scheduled Jump fixtures will go ahead at Musselburgh and Plumpton on Wednesday 13 February, alongside the All Weather fixtures at Southwell and Kempton.

Return to racing

As part of the controlled return, the BHA has developed a risk framework which allows us to categorise individual trainers by the level of risk they have been exposed to. The ability of runners to return to racing from those yards will depend on the risk categories the yards are placed in.

We are finalising overnight which category individual trainers will currently be placed in. The BHA will contact trainers tomorrow morning to inform them of their category and eligibility to run.


Trainers who hold entries for Wednesday are advised to declare at 10am on Tuesday. Confirmed declarations will not be issued to the media, betting organisations and data customers until 1:30pm. In this period the BHA will review all declarations to ensure none have been declared which do not meet the risk criteria.

Please note declarations for Thursday’s Flat All Weather meetings will now be at the 24 hour stage.

Biosecurity measures

In addition to the risk factors outlined above, and as an interim measure, the BHA has ordered that no entries or declarations will be accepted from horses that have not been vaccinated [for equine influenza] in the previous six months. Trainers are advised to check current vaccination records before declaring tomorrow morning. In addition, all trainers will be required to provide a health declaration upon arrival at a racecourse.

The BHA’s Director of Equine Health and Welfare, David Sykes said:

“The BHA and the veterinary committee agree that, on balance, the level of risk is acceptable for a return to racing.

“We have developed a risk model, which the veterinary committee support, in order to assist the return to racing.

“We will observe closely those horses who are taken to the racecourse and will intervene as a precaution to prevent a horse running or accessing a racecourse if we believe it might put other horses at risk of infection.

“The veterinary committee are of the view that an unprecedented amount of this disease has been identified in Europe. This is not a typical endemic period and it was essential that precautions be taken to protect the horse population.”

Rescheduling of races

In preparation for a return to Racing the BHA’s Racing department has identified a number of key Jump races which should be rescheduled. The identified races are based on their place in the Pattern and races which provided essential opportunities.

The following races have been rescheduled:
Races rescheduled
Full race conditions will be circulated tomorrow and a further review will take place of any gaps that have been caused at all levels of the race programme with a view to adding in additional race or fixtures as required.

A similar exercise will also commence for Flat races in the coming days.

About the Veterinary Committee       

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA)’s Veterinary Committee advises on all veterinary matters affecting racing and the health and welfare of racehorses. It contains representatives of the BHA, Association of Racecourse Veterinary Surgeons (ARVS), British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA), National Trainers Federation (NTF), Racehorse Owners Association (ROA), Animal Health Trust (AHT), Thoroughbred Breeders Association (TBA), Racecourse Association (RCA) and Independent expertise.

New SNELL skull cap standard

SNELL have developed a new skull cap standard – E2016 – which the BHA intends to add to the list of skull cap standards permitted in the rules.

Manufacture of the E2001 standard ceased in 2018 and this standard will remain on the permitted list for the time being while stocks are held in shops. Because the maximum lifetime of a skull cap is four to five years, the BHA envisages 2023/24 as a probable date to withdraw the E2001 standard from the rules.

If a hat with an E2001 label also has PAS 011 or the other current standard, it will remain acceptable even when SNELL E2001 has gone.

Testing of imported horses so they are qualified to race in Britain

A recent disciplinary case has highlighted the rules relating to horses imported from non-exempt countries. These rules are contained in the BHA’s Equine Anti-Doping rules (EADR) which have their own area on the BHA website under the Regulation and Governance tab. From there, click Anti-Doping and Medication Control; then Rules and Guides from the dropdown box.

On the Rules and Guidance page, you will see links to two quite similar documents – Permanent imports, and Permanent Import testing for horses sold at Bloodstock Auctions. These explain that unless a horse has been imported from France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Norway or Sweden (known as exempt countries due to having anti-doping policies like Britain’s) it must be tested and return a negative sample before it can race. This is rule (E) 17.5.

While it is the responsible person’s duty to ensure the test is done, justifiable questions arose in the recent disciplinary case about the failures in the racing administration system that allowed the relevant horses to be entered. This issue is being discussed by the NTF and BHA. We are looking for a way to avoid manual checking that is prone to mistakes.

The rules are slightly different for horses not being imported but coming to this country temporarily to run. All runners from exempt countries will still be exposed to testing as per the standard testing policy. The rules go on to say, “All other foreign runners must be in Great Britain (and the BHA notified of their whereabouts) a minimum of 10 business days in advance of their intended race to facilitate post-arrival sampling and analysis, the results of which will be received prior to the horse running.”

Modification to the restrictions on massage rugs

Since the introduction of restrictions to the use of various therapies in racecourse stables in March this year, we have been liaising with the BHA to get some modifications. We were able to achieve a change to the prohibition on icing, as previously reported. Now the BHA has agreed to a relaxation on the restrictions on Manipulative Therapy by confirming that this does not include massage rugs.

The advice issued states:

  • Trainers should obtain the permission of a VO or EWIO before taking a Massage Rug into, or using a Massage Rug, in the racecourse stables.  The VO or EWIO will expect to examine the Rug before giving such permission.
  • Reports will be made to the Stewards on every occasion permission has not been obtained.
  • No formal disciplinary action will occur– Massage Rugs are not a form of ‘Manipulative Therapy’ therefore their use is not a breach of Rule (C)33A. The trainer will be advised to seek the necessary permission in future and a note of the report recorded on the Raceday Team Briefing.

Due to the Rule change earlier in the year, the Guide to Procedures and Penalties still incorrectly refers to ‘Manipulative Therapy’ under Rule (C)33.7, with a recommended penalty of a Band A fine.  The Guide is wrong and will be amended in the New Year.

Forthcoming changes to test parameters for five prohibited substances

The BHA Board has approved changes to the testing protocol for Prednisolone, Testosterone, Cetirizine Hydroxyzine, Bufotenine and DMT. Simple explanations are below with the effective dates. If you need more advice, please ask your veterinary surgeon.

Prednisolone: decrease in screening limit from 25ng/ml to 10ng/ml in urine. Published Detection Time to remain at 48 hours. Effective 1st January 2019.

Testosterone: introduction of a threshold of 100 picograms free testosterone per millilitre in plasma for fillies and mares (unless in foal.) Effective 1st January 2019

Cetirizine: introduction of a new screening limit of 100ng/ml in urine and 0.25ng/ml in plasma. New Detection Time of 96 hours (4 days.) Effective 1st December 2018.


Substance Preparation Dose Route of


Detection Time


Cetirizine Allacan® (Bristol Laboratories Ltd) 190mg twice

daily for 4.5 days

Oral 96


Hydroxyzine Atarax® (Alliance



500mg twice

daily for 4.5 days

Oral 96


Prednisolone Prednidale®

25mg (Dechra)

1mg/kg, single


Oral ≤ 48^

A full list of official Detection Times established by the European Horseracing Scientific Liaison Committee is available on the BHA website here.

Update on warning to trainers about the use and possession of Regumate

On Thursday 21st September the BHA issued a second notice to trainers about the use of Regumate, which contains altrenogest. At the time of publication, the BHA obtained samples from several different batch numbers of Regumate® Equine 2.2mg/ml Oral Solution for Horses (MSD Animal Health) and requested analysis of these samples from LGC analytical laboratory. The results of this analysis detected the presence of trendione in the above batches of Regumate® Equine.

Trendione is an anabolic steroid and is a ‘substance prohibited at all times’ under Schedule (G)1 of the BHA Rules of Racing. This means that possession, use or attempted use of Regumate Equine constitutes an offence under the rules of racing. Trainers are advised to remove Regumate Equine from all licensed premises and not to administer it. If you have used Regumate, make sure it is shown in your medication records. Keep records of any Regumate you dispose of, e.g. batch numbers or take photos of the packaging/bottles before it is destroyed.

We have been in touch with the BHA to ask about the BHA’s approach regarding the application of the rules for any trainer that has used Regumate, given that trendione is prohibited at all times. The BHA says it will be taking “an educative approach”, in other words there is no intention to instigate disciplinary measures as long as trainers take steps immediately to cease use of Regumate and dispose of any batches in their yard.


The BHA would like to make Trainers, veterinary surgeons and other industry participants aware of an international issue regarding products which contain altrenogest. Altrenogest is commonly referred to by the trade name “Regumate”.

It has been reported in international racing jurisdictions that trace levels of the anabolic steroid(s) trenbolone and/or trendione have been detected in products which contain altrenogest. Trainers have been advised by Racing Victoria (Australia) to immediately stop the use of products containing altrenogest. Further investigation is being carried out by Australian regulators.

In the UK, there is one product which contains altrenogest which is licensed for use in horses: Regumate® Equine 2.2mg/ml Oral Solution for Horses (MSD Animal Health). Regumate® Equine is a prescription only veterinary medicine (POM-V).

Following discussion with the European manufacturer, the BHA can inform industry participants that Regumate® Equine which is distributed in the UK is reportedly sourced from a separate location to those products under investigation. In light of the international situation, the BHA would strongly advise trainers to be cautious if using altrenogest in racing thoroughbreds.

The BHA published Detection Time for altrenogest is 288 hours (12 days), based on an administration study of four horses using an oral dose of 2.2mg/kg once daily for 10 days.

In contrast, a 24 hour (one clear day) withdrawal from racing is recommended in Australia for mares and fillies receiving oral altrenogest.

The BHA is undertaking further work to gain an understanding of the implications of this issue within Europe and participants will be informed as soon as further information becomes available.

Further information on the BHA’s Anabolic Steroid Policy can be found here.