Racing in New South Wales was suspended indefinitely Aug. 27 in the wake of the escalation of the equine influenza crisis in Australia, and some stud farms began the breeding season early.
Ian Macdonald, the New South Wales Minister for Primary Industries, said 415 horses have been identified with flu symptoms at 53 different locations. There were 51 confirmed cases of EI, he said in a release.
Macdonald said no movement of horses in New South Wales will be permitted until further notice. A review of the policy is set for Sept. 3.
The containment order means all Thoroughbred and harness racing in New South Wales will remain suspended until at least next week. Fines of up to $44,000 and 12-month jail sentences can apply to any person found moving a horse in New South Wales, officials said. Police have stopped more than 100 horse trailers since the ban was enacted Aug. 25.
Meanwhile, the Australian Associated Press reported that leading stud farms have begun the breeding season early. (Normally, it begins Sept. 1 in Australia and New Zealand.) The farms got the go-ahead from the Australian Stud Book.
“It gives those farms with resident mares a chance to get them covered before the onslaught (when the ban on horse movement is lifted),” Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association president John Messsara told the Australian Associated Press. “You don’t want home mares competing with walk-ons, so even if it only means 20 or 30 mares can be covered, you might as well get them out of the way now.”
Among the farms that began breeding mares early are Arrowfield Stud, Coolmore Stud, and Widden Stud, according to the news service.
Coolmore has a large number of mares stationed at the farm as well as the stallions Fastnet Rock, Spinning World, Tale of the Cat , Dehere, Johannesburg, Fusaichi Pegasus , Lion Heart, and Royal Academy. Other Coolmore stallions remain in lockdown at the Eastern Creek quarantine facility, the report said.
Other published reports indicated officials hope to keep the Melbourne Cup (Aust-I) scheduled for the traditional first Tuesday in November. There have been conflicting reports as to whether the race, Australia’s signature event, would be moved back a few weeks because of the EI outbreak.