Ireland Relaxes Foot-And-Mouth Restrictions

The Republic of Ireland has lifted its prohibition on British horses that travel there in a move that should help both the breeding and racing industries. It appears British horses, previously restricted because of the foot-and-mouth outbreak, will be able to compete in the Irish One Thousand (Ire-I) and Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) at the Curragh May 26-27.

Horses will have to go to isolation units upon their arrival in Ireland. The restriction, imposed by the Irish Department of Agriculture, will apply to all British horses that run in Ireland until further notice.

Horses shipped to Ireland only to race will spend a short period of time in isolation, but those who will stay in the country on a more permanent basis will have to be isolated a minimum of five days.

New cases of foot-and-mouth disease in Britain are in decline (the total number of cases was 1,597 as of May 13), and the restrictions imposed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food are being eased.

Several racecourses prevented from holding meets earlier this year have been given the green light by the British Horseracing Board. Cheltenham, which lost the National Hunt Festival in March and wasn't able to run it in April either, is due to hold its first program since January on May 23. Other racecourses back on the schedule are Wolverhampton, Sedgefield, Hexham, Thirsk, and Newcastle. Worcester and Stratford are also set to race again shortly.

Disinfection procedures for motor vehicles, people, and horses remain in place for every meet.

One area of Great Britain still without racing is Northern Ireland, where the local government hasn't given the go-ahead for racing.

The mood within the British racing and breeding industries is that things are returning to normal. Attendance at racecourses generally is back to pre-disease levels. The three-day May meeting at Chester drew the highest-ever crowd in the post-war period on its final day.