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Norfolk racecourse boss says 'worrying' horse flu outbreak could have 'major consequences'

PUBLISHED: 11:18 08 February 2019

Equine flu has been confirmed in Norfolk. Racing resumed at Fakenham on Friday, after British racing regulators enforced a six-day suspension after an outbreak in Cheshire. Photo: IAN BURT

Equine flu has been confirmed in Norfolk. Racing resumed at Fakenham on Friday, after British racing regulators enforced a six-day suspension after an outbreak in Cheshire. Photo: IAN BURT

Archant 2018

The boss of a Norfolk racecourse has said a national horseracing suspension could have “major consequences” if a planned meet next Friday cannot go ahead.

Chief executive and clerk of the course David Hunter at Fakenham Racecourse. Photo: IAN BURTChief executive and clerk of the course David Hunter at Fakenham Racecourse. Photo: IAN BURT

British racing regulators have enforced a six-day suspension of the sport after an outbreak of equine influenza was discovered at a yard in Cheshire.

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) have said the sport will not resume before Wednesday, February 13, after three horses were tested positive.

No meetings are scheduled to take place at Great Yarmouth Racecourse until April, but Fakenham Racecourse’s next event, Lycetts Raceday, is slated for Friday, February 15.

And the clerk of the north Norfolk racecourse had said there would be a significant impact on the business if the meet cannot take place as planned.

David Hunter, chief executive and clerk of the course at Fakenham, said: “We’re next due to be racing a week on Friday.

“There’s no immediate problem within this week. We will just have to see how things progress.

“They’ve said it won’t resume before next Wednesday at the earliest and they’re not going to say ‘we’re not going to race on Thursday but we will on Friday’.

“We would be looking at quite considerable costs. We lost the last two race meetings to frozen weather. We certainly don’t want to be losing another meet.

“We’ve got a busy restaurant and corporate entertainment. The last two meets were quieter events - this is long established and there would be major consequences.”

Mr Hunter added: “They’ve put the week of no racing in place to allow time to see if there are any other cases that come out.

“There’s a three day gestation period of a horse being exposed to influenza and showing the signs.

“The BHA are being advised by the vets and the experts.

“It’s still early days but it’s absolutely the right thing to have done - not an overreaction.”

Mr Hunter said the course had no horses permanently stabled on the site, but there were rigorous hygiene policies in place and stables used by visiting horses were disinfected regularly.

“We had foot and mouth some years ago but this is different,” he said. “It’s worrying to think of an influenza outbreak running through the horse population in this country.”

Mr Hunter confirmed if the meet was cancelled, ticket holders would be fully refunded.

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