The British Horseracing Authority has announced last week that all horseracing in the UK was cancelled due to the equine influenza outbreak, with the unanimous support of the veterinary committee. The Animal Health Trust confirmed that three vaccinated racing horses had influenza at an active racing yard.
The Details About the Shut Down
The infected horses raced at the Ayr and Ludlow courses on Wednesday, which means that they may have infected a significant number of other racing horses across the United Kingdom and Ireland. Even though the British Horseracing Authority has communicated with the yards whose horses were exposed to influenza, it can take up to three days before the symptoms appear, so they cannot be certain to the full extent of the exposure.
Therefore, the BHA has announced that all horseracing in Britain will not resume until this Wednesday at the earliest. Before allowing the horseraces to continue, the BHA has to be certain and discuss with participants and scientists. The Cheltenham Festival is scheduled on March 12th, so all horses need to be checked and given a clean bill before the marquee event. The BHA was concerned about the fact that the virus is resistant to the vaccine, so they shut down all races.
Last week, the BHA said that the decision whether to resume horseracing on Wednesday or not would be made today, on Monday. Yesterday, though, the BHA published a report stating that at the Simon Crisford yard, four tests came positive for influenza. The Simon Crisford yard is just one of 174 yards which have been required to test the horses and even though the BHA works tirelessly to take control over the incident, the likelihood of the horseracing to resume on Wednesday is pretty slim.
The Blow to the Industry
The betting industry, however, will receive a significant blow because of this disease. The industry is actually looking at a multi-million-pound loss to the revenue. In the course of 12 months to March 2018, the UKGC statistics showed that the horseracing in the UK generated over £600 million in online horseracing betting revenue. The fact that the standstill will last one week at best, the multi-million loss could actually happen. This will be a tremendous blow to the UK racing industry considering the fact that there is a chance for the Cheltenham Festival to be postponed as well, but not so to the UK bookmakers, who will compensate for the loss with other international races.