Four days after British racing was placed on lockdown after the first three of an initial six horses tested positive for equine influenza, a further four positive tests have been returned from the yard of trainer Simon Crisford in Newmarket.
The first six positives all came from the yard of National Hunt trainer Donald McCain last Wednesday and Friday, and sweeping tests of horses across 174 yards, resulting in “several thousand” samples in the interim had returned no new positives until Sunday evening, when four vaccinated horses in Crisford’s yard were identified as positive.
The British Horseracing Authority had earlier on Sunday said it would announce on Monday whether racing could resume on Wednesday-the earliest possible date outlined the week prior. That now looks entirely unlikely.
Among those speaking out about the effect of the racing shutdown was jockeys’ valet Chris Maude.
“It’s obviously not great because I have five full-time employees,” the former jockey said. “I’ve been saying it’s a bit like bad weather–when you are off five or six days you do catch up. All those horses that were going to run then run somewhere else, but any longer than a week and we’ll be in serious trouble. I’m paying wages out, but I’m getting nothing in.
“You always expect a few days of bad weather at this time of year, but if it gets beyond a week it’s not physically possible for the British Horseracing Authority to put on all the extra meetings.
Jockeys’ agent Chris Broad said, “There are lots of people affected, not many jump jockeys have a retainer so it will soon start affecting them. It does no good people like me speculating when we think we might get going again; I’m not a foot solider doing the tests. Lots of people are worse off than me. Look at the transport companies, they’ve got staff to pay but they aren’t turning any wheels over.”