Market Rasen racecourse all set for Sunday event after equine flu outbreak

Horse racing is scheduled to return tomorrow after a six-day shutdown following an outbreak of equine influenza.

Horse racing returns to Market Rasen Racecourse – photo by Simon O’Neill

Racing has been suspended in the UK since February 7 following three cases of equine flu at a stable in Cheshire.

A total of 23 race meetings have been cancelled due to the shutdown and 174 racing stables have been placed in lockdown over the past week.

The shutdown is set to end tomorrow (Wednesday) and some races are set to go ahead, trainers have been told they will be assessed before they are able to have runners in races.

Market Rasen Racecourse is the nearest horse racing course to Lincoln, and has had doubts over whether or not they would have to abandon their next event on Sunday, February 17.

In a press release, Nadia Powell, general manager of Market Rasen Racecourse, said: “After a challenging few days for the whole horse racing industry, we are delighted that racing is going ahead as scheduled on Sunday for our new ‘Love Market Rasen’ raceday.”

Despite some concerns that the event may be called off due to the recent horse racing shutdown, Mrs Powell has said there will be “a full programme of jump racing”.

The end of the shutdown will also come as a relief to betting shops.

Some high street betting shops in Lincoln have suggested that over the last week they have seen far fewer people betting in shops, as well as a rise in the number of people betting on horse racing across European countries such as France and Ireland.

Equine influenza shares some similarities with human flu, in that the typical symptoms include coughing and a high temperature which limits the competitive capability of horses.

Market Rasen Racecourse

The virus is the most potentially damaging respiratory virus that occurs in UK equines and some have suggested the British Horseracing Authority may have removed the shutdown too soon after the outbreak.

In a press release posted earlier today, the BHA has said they are “committed to the return to racing whilst minimising the risk of equine influenza spreading further within the sport”.

They have also said that there will be a large number of booster vaccinations for any horse that has not been vaccinated within the last six months, and have said that there will be extra races put in place for any time that these horses miss with a number of larger events taking place in the coming months.

With racing set to resume tomorrow, the horseracing community will await further details on what restrictions may be put in place in future to prevent another outbreak.