Appalling livestock losses in England caused by the foot-and-mouth (FMD) outbreaks are unlikely to affect the general movement of shuttle stallions from Britain. The situation could change, however, if the measures taken by English authorities fail to control the disease over the next six to eight weeks. England's major Thoroughbred region in and around Newmarket is reportedly clear of FMD. The Australian Federal Government Quarantine and Inspections Services (AQIS) implemented moves to protect the country's huge agricultural industry, banning British imports of products from cattle, sheep, etc., including semen and embryos, dairy products, meat and meat flavorings. AQIS has introduced stricter scanning of passengers who might have visited English farms, slowing the processing of international passengers at Australian airport terminals. Import bans do not apply to any other European country at this stage. Quentin Wallace, who heads the Australian branch of International Racehorse Transport (IRT), said from Melbourne March 12 that should the outbreaks continue at the present pace, the pressure on AQIS from other agricultural industries would almost certainly force it to place a total ban on horses into Australia from Britain.
"However, you would expect that the measures taken in the UK will have slowed the spread of the disease and it should play itself out before long," he said. "Once outbreaks are contained, except for a few sporadic ones that inevitably occur, the pressure would be removed for AQIS to act well before the shuttle flights. AQIS, like the rest of us, can only maintain a watching brief until this thing runs its course."
His thoughts were echoed at several Australian studs: Those with shuttlers and/or breeding stock due to arrive from England for the spring breeding season beginning on Sept.1, are wary of the situation. Though they expect some declines, few shuttle deals and mare purchases from England are likely to have been made since February 5. Yet few believe the shuttles from Europe are in jeopardy. Arrowfield has Danzero on the reverse shuttle at Cheveley Park but most of its residents commute from Japan and the USA.