NSW Offers Funds to Horsemen Impacted by EI Crisis

The New South Wales state government announced Oct. 4 a multimillion-dollar financial rescue package for Thoroughbred industry participants whose businesses were affected by equine influenza.

The New South Wales state government announced Oct. 4 a multimillion-dollar financial rescue package for Thoroughbred industry participants whose businesses were affected by equine influenza.

NSW Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald and NSW Racing Minister Graham West announced “an additional $7.5 million in direct assistance to the stricken NSW racing industry to help it recover from the effects of the devastating equine influenza outbreak.”

Macdonald noted the relief and recovery package comes “on top of the estimated $8.3 million the government will spend on containing and eradicating horse flu.”

In other developments, an in-depth inquiry into the equine influenza virus crisis was opened. The public is said to be anxiously awaiting the outcome, as lawyers are preparing to file class-action suits.

Conducted in NSW, the inquiry is expected to include testimony from more than 150 people. The first day’s proceedings included testimony from staff at the Eastern Creek quarantine facility that EI is carried by humans, which accounts for the staggeringly fast spread of the virus across Australia.

Another finding was that veterinarians transmitted EI.  Not knowing how virulent the strain was, they reportedly did not undertake the now-necessary biosecurity protocols to inhibit the the bug's travel.

According to Australian Racing Board CEO Andrew Harding, the hearing will get to the bottom of the ordeal. "A lot of different scenarios were detailed at the hearing and the caliber of persons involved is such that we will find out how this happened," he said.

More than 5,000 horses of all breeds have contracted EI, but as of Oct. 3, about 6,000 vials of vaccine had been administered to Thoroughbreds.

It appears likely the Victorian Spring Carnival, with the $5-million Melbourne Cup (gr. I) as its flagship, will go forward, as all Thoroughbreds in training in Victoria have now been inoculated. No horses from NSW or Queensland are permitted to take part in the Carnival, which should make the big race just that bit easier for the first of the European visitors: Purple Moon (trained by Luca Cumani) and Tungsten Strike (trained by Amanda Perrett), who headed to the Sandown quarantine facility immediately.

Lightly raced 4-year-old Purple Moon (Galileo-Vanishing Prairie, by Alysheba) landed a multi-million pound plunge when winning August’s UK Totesport Ebor Handicap (14 furlongs) at York. That followed victory in the Listed Glorious Stakes (12 furlongs) at Goodwood three weeks earlier. And four-time stakes winner Tungsten Strike (Smart Strike-Bathilde, by Generous) is a last start winner of August’s UK Windflower March Stakes (14 furlongs) at Goodwood; last season he won the UK Gr2 Henry II Stakes (2 miles) at Sandown. The Melbourne Cup is two miles.