BHA update regarding equine influenza case

10/02/2019 @16:35:00

Testing at licensed yards across the country is ongoing, with a view to quickly assessing and containing the potential spread of the highly contagious equine influenza virus which is affecting vaccinated horses.

The BHA is continuing to build a picture of the potential spread of the disease by testing as many horses as possible from potentially exposed yards. The data collected will help to build an evidence base which will allow a decision to be made on Monday as to whether racing can return on Wednesday 13 February.

Surveillance update

The Animal Health Trust (AHT) has now received several thousands of samples and is working through the process of testing those samples. The latest update that has been provided to the BHA confirms that no further positive cases have been identified from the testing carried out yesterday. Owing to the volume of testing being carried out the AHT have not been able to provide a precise figure as to the number of tests carried out, but they are of the view that the numbers processed will be roughly equivalent to the 720 which were processed the previous day.

Amongst the samples that have been tested are those of the remaining 27 horses from the yard of Rebecca Menzies. All horses in this yard have now tested negative, though the yard will remain under close surveillance and further testing will be carried out.

Analysis remains ongoing with more swabs being returned all the time, and yesterday 5,000 extra swabs were distributed to trainers to assist with the logistical challenges of testing this many horses.

The AHT have also publicly confirmed that a non-thoroughbred, unvaccinated horse has sadly had to be humanely euthanized after having contracted the virus. This shows the threat posed by the disease in unvaccinated horses and the importance of biosecurity procedures and movement restrictions to contain the possible spread of the disease.

Equine influenza should not be confused with or compared to the common ‘bug’ that might impact some yards from time to time. It is the most potentially damaging of the respiratory viruses that occur in UK equines, and it can be particularly serious for younger horses, which is of particular concern with the breeding season about to start. Trainers are required under the rules to notify the BHA should a case of equine influenza be identified or suspected in their yard.

Return to racing

A pragmatic and evidence-led approach is being adopted in order to enable the BHA to make decisions on Monday as to whether racing can return on Wednesday 13 February. A prioritisation plan for testing is being adopted, which is based on the proximity of horses to a positive test, or to a yard returning a positive test. Swabs will continue to be collected and tested from other horses, but some are being fast tracked. Separately, a specific plan is being formed as to what the clearance process will be for individual yards to return to racing.

This process will remain ongoing through today and tomorrow with a view to sufficient evidence being gathered to make a decision on Monday evening as to whether racing can return on Wednesday. We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding that as much evidence as possible must be gathered prior to making a decision as to when racing can safely return.

Should racing be given the go ahead to return on Wednesday then declarations for all races would take place on Tuesday.

David Sykes, Director of Equine Health and Welfare for the BHA, said:

“The data is encouraging and provides a further indication that the precautionary safety measures have helped to contain the spread of disease. However, the picture is still developing and it remains the case that we will make an evidence-based decision about the situation on Monday.

“It remains paramount that, for the sake of our horse population, we do not take any unnecessary risks. This is not a common cold, it is a highly contagious and potentially serious disease.

“The prioritisation exercise with regards to testing will help deliver a detailed picture of the spread of infection. Targeted testing, alongside the wide survey of data we have already gathered, will help provide a clear picture as to the scale of the spread of the disease. Any decision will include guidance and input from veterinary experts, including the industry’s veterinary committee.

“We are also working through the process that will be followed in order to give specific yards the all clear to resume racing. This will balance the clear need for yards to resume business as soon as possible with ensuring that we do not put horses at the risk of unnecessary harm. We are liaising with the NTF and trainers on this process.”

Testing costs

As confirmed last night, the BHA and Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) have agreed to pay a contribution to owners or trainers for the costs incurred where the BHA has required samples to be taken, including the cost of the swabs and the veterinary fees involved. We are working on the exact details with the NTF and HBLB and will confirm the reimbursement policy and process as soon as possible, but it will be based on a fixed fee per horse sampled.

The BHA is extremely grateful to HBLB for their important support and contribution.

NTF responds to BHA announcement of a review of anti-doping rules

NEWS RELEASE

25 January 2018

National Trainers Federation responds to BHA announcement of a review of anti-doping rules

Yesterday evening the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) announced a full review of the sport’s equine anti-doping rules.

In the aftermath of the result in the Hughie Morrison case, the NTF called for a review of aspects of these regulations so we welcome the BHA’s announcement and look forward to playing a constructive role.

NTF Chief Executive Rupert Arnold commented, “We would like to take this opportunity to clarify and confirm that the NTF supports the principle of strict liability in equine anti-doping cases and we have not challenged it in recent cases. Our contention has been that the rules should not fetter the Disciplinary Panel in its duty to impose appropriate penalties in the light of the specific evidence in each case. This is what the Appeal Board confirmed in its decision on the BHA’s appeal of the Philip Hobbs case.”

Ends

The National Trainers Federation represents the interests of British licensed racehorse trainers.

For more information, please contact Rupert Arnold, NTF Chief Executive, on 01488 71794 or 07899 797010. E-mail: r.arnold@racehorsetrainers.org

For more information on the National Trainers Federation, please go to www.racehorsetrainers.org

 

NTF statement on Hughie Morrison result

The Disciplinary Panel’s decision to fine rather than ban Hughie Morrison is in the NTF’s opinion a fair and balanced result on the evidence.

The NTF has said it before but it bears repeating that this and other cases involving prohibited substance have left trainers feeling very vulnerable. We are pleased that the Disciplinary Panel, while having regard to the requirement for strict liability, is taking a broader view of the issues and not accepting without question the arguments run by the BHA’s legal team. We believe the Panel’s approach is the right one for the best interests of the sport.

Nothing in our statement should lead to any doubt that the NTF supports racing’s anti-doping policy generally and zero tolerance of anabolic steroids. However, today the NTF is calling for the BHA to review aspects of its management of anti-doping regulation. There are a number of issues but one is that it is not good enough for the regulator to hide behind trainers’ strict liability to avoid a thorough investigation, particularly when the stakes are as high as they were in this case.. The BHA requires not only the confidence of the public in the integrity of racing but also the confidence of its participants that they will be treated with sufficient care in the course of an investigation. The BHA’s reason for not conducting a hair test on Our Little Sister does not stand up to scrutiny.

A point that bears on the BHA’s duty of care to defendants is that in spite of the recent announcement of a route to pro bono legal representation, there are very few trainers who could afford to go to the lengths Hughie Morrison could to mount the defence he needed. NTF members have access to our legal expenses insurance scheme but even that is not able to fully cover very costly litigation.

Rupert Arnold

Reminder of New Qualification Rules for Nurseries

The BHA would like to remind trainers that the qualification rules for nursery handicaps were revised prior to this season. As a reminder, the new criteria for a 2yo trained in Britain is that to be eligible for a rating a horse must compete at least 3 times in flat races run in Great Britain and/or Ireland, or a horse must win 2 flat races in either Great Britain and/or Ireland, with at least one of the wins being in Great Britain.