The movement of horses to and from the United Kingdom hasn't been affected by the recent small outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease at two farms in Surrey in southern England. Overseas-trained runners can continue to run in races in Great Britain providing the correct certification has been completed.
Australian officials are relaxing restrictions on United Kingdom horses imposed as a result of the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, permitting horses from Britain into the country under certain quarantine conditions.
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.
More than 160 meetings have been canceled in Britain due to foot-and-mouth disease -- the tally now is more than 1,400 cases -- or the desperate weather, but the first significant flat meeting of the season took place at Newmarket April 17-19, with the seven-furlong Shadwell Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes (Eng-III) for 3-year-old fillies, and the Macau Jockey Club Craven Stakes (Eng-III) over the straight Rowley Mile for sophomore colts and geldings. Newbury's spring meeting followed immediately with the Lane's End Greenham Stakes (Eng-III) for 3-year-old colts and geldings and the Fred Darling Stakes (Eng-III) for 3-year-old fillies, both over a straight seven furlongs.
Racing in the Republic of Ireland resumed Monday at Leopardstown and Cork after a 50-day shutdown. The move came despite confirmation of a third outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease across the border in Northern Ireland.
The British Horseracing Board is set to relax its tough stance of not racing at courses within 10 kilometers of a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak. BHB directors were to be told at a meeting Wednesday that further disruption to the flat racing season in Britain could occur if the policy isn't changed.
The United States hasn't issued a formal ban on the importation of horses from countries affected by foot-and-mouth disease, but the American Horse Council continues to monitor the situation in Europe and work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to issue new importation guidelines.
The British Horseracing Board ruled Sunday that the rescheduled Cheltenham Festival cannot take place April 17-19 because the Gloucestershire, England course falls within a foot and mouth infected area. According to Racenews, a foot and mouth outbreak has been confirmed at Woolstone, about five miles from the course.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has banned horses from entering the state if they come directly or indirectly from countries where outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease have occurred.
The Mail On Sundaynewspaper in Britain reported the Queen, who owns and breeds horses and has her own racecourse, Ascot, thinks that the sport should be suspended while the foot and mouth outbreak continues. The British Horseracing Board confirmed that the Queen has expressed her concern. Tristram Ricketts, secretary general of the BHB, said: "Last week Her Majesty the Queen expressed her concern that racing should consider its response to the foot and mouth outbreak very carefully, but has not asked for horseracing to stop.
Racing in the Republic of Ireland is set to resume on Saturday, April 14, after being banned completely from last month in a series of often draconian measures to prevent foot and mouth disease getting a toehold in the country. No case of foot and mouth has been detected in the Republic of Ireland to date, though there has been one in Northern Ireland. The pressure to allow racing to re-start has been growing, particularly as British week's shutdown.
The American Horse Council has learned that recent reports saying horses are not permitted entry into the U.S. from the European Union are erroneous. Some of the misunderstanding results from a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) press release from March 13, 2001, which said that "all animals and animal products are temporarily prohibited entry from the European Union".
Cheltenham Racecourse announced Wednesday that it has agreed with the British Horseracing Board new dates for the Cheltenham National Hunt Meeting. The dates are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, April 17-19. Meanwhile, Newmarket Racecourse has adjusted its race times and will now kick off at 1.15 p.m. each day for its Craven meet that will run the same days as the rescheduled Cheltenham Festival.
Not that it wasn't already very serious, but the implications foot and mouth disease could have on the Thoroughbred industry became scary business Wednesday when the Australian government placed an indefinite ban on the importation of horses to that country from the European Union.
Discussions to continued to take place over the weekend with all interested parties about the re-scheduling of Cheltenham, with the aim of confirming as soon as possible the new dates for the three days. The Cheltenham Board Sunday and gave its backing to the process. Progress has been made but there are still various issues to be determined -- the main one being what will happen to Ireland's Punchestown Festival which is scheduled from April 24 to 27.
Britain's Cheltenham Racecourse announced Friday that discussions were taking place between course officials and "all interested parties regarding the availability of dates for the rescheduled National Hunt Festival." Cheltenham further requested ticket holders to retain their tickets until the Festival dates are announced, at which time "they will then have the option of attending on the same day of the week or applying for a full refund."
Cheltenham Racecourse on Wednesday expressed "intense disappointment" over the postponement of next week's National Hunt Festival, which was due to start on Tuesday, March 13. The 2001 Festival will now take place either in the week of April 16th or the following week. An announcement about the exact dates will be made as soon as possible.
British and Irish breeders are hoping mares that can't be shipped to stallions because of restrictions imposed by the foot-and-mouth outbreak will be able to do so later in the breeding season. Movement of horses in Great Britain, outside the immediate exclusion zones around the 70 confirmed British outbreaks of foot and mouth, is not controlled. Dispensation, with proper precautions, is possible even within such zones.
France on Monday banned exports of animals at risk from foot-and-mouth disease after tests on nine herds showed traces of the highly contagious virus. In Belgium, tests showed no evidence of the disease in suspected pigs. The BBC reported French horses are set to pull out of the Cheltenham festival as a result of the country's restrictions on movement of animals. managing director of Cheltenham Racecourse, said the meet is still scheduled for March 13-15.
Fallout from the foot-and-mouth disease that has gripped the United Kingdom continued, with the announcement that Ireland's Department of Defense ruled that all animals must be removed from The Curragh racecourse "for the foreseeable future," according to The Racing Post. Meanwhile, published reports say that Singapore has banned the import of horses from the UK in reaction to the disease.
Officials in Great Britain have ruled that horse racing will be suspended for at least a week, effective Wednesday, because of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. In Ireland, racing also has been canceled, and horses and Greyhounds can't be shipped to the island country from Great Britain.
Black smoke from a flaming pyre of livestock carcasses drifted across a busy highway - a grim reminder for passing commuters of the growing toll of Britain's first outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in two decades. More new cases were confirmed Monday. The disease affects only cloven-hoofed animals, but others can carry the virus. Horse racing officials are considering calling a halt to races, as they did during a similar outbreak in 1967.