Racecourses ready to roll again

Musselburgh lost its Trials meeting twice – to frost and flu

  • Tuesday 12 February
  • News
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Musselburgh chief executive Bill Farnsworth is looking forward to “getting the show back on the road” as racing swings back into action on Wednesday.

The track has endured a trying few weeks, with the cold snap at the beginning of the month followed by the six-day shutdown due to an outbreak of equine flu scuppering the venue’s high-profile Cheltenham Trials meeting.

With the British Horseracing Authority having now given the green light for Wednesday’s cards, Farnsworth is thrilled the Edinburgh track will help the wheels start rolling once more.

He said: “We’re just pleased to be back racing again.

“It’s been a topsy-turvy few weeks. We lost our original Cheltenham Trials fixture, which was due to be our richest ever meeting, at the start of the month due to the weather. We then re-scheduled that meeting for last weekend, only to have that cancelled due to the equine flu outbreak.

“Tomorrow’s fixture isn’t actually our fixture – we acquired it a few weeks ago from Towcester, because no one else was really in a position to race, so we stepped in.

“As we were viewing that as a bonus meeting, we decided not to charge for entry – so we’re delighted to be getting the show back on the road, and with free entry.”

Plumpton’s clerk of the course Mark Cornford is similarly relieved that racing is back on the agenda – because the Sussex track was another to feel the bite of the cold weather.

He said: “We’re delighted to be one of the first courses to race.

“We actually lost our last meeting due to the weather, so we’re thrilled we’re not going to lose another to circumstances beyond our control.

“We have done a thorough clean of the stable yard and all the other relevant areas. The boxes are fogged – which is like disinfectant – before every meeting, and they were done for our last meeting and have been done again by circumstance.

“We’ll have hand sanitisers available in the stable yard for people to use if they wish, the veterinary team will be on the course to monitor horses coming off the lorries, generally check they’re in good health and check all the paperwork we need to see.

“It’s a lot of commonsense measures, and we’re just happy to be racing.”

Kempton also race on Wednesday, and clerk of the course Brian Clifford believes the six-day blank spell was in the best interests of the sport.

He said: “It’s great racing is back on.

“I think it (the shutdown) was the right thing to do, to take some time to see how the situation unfolded, but it’s great we’re back in action.

“We have carried out a level-two clean of the stables, the unsaddling boxes, the starting stalls – we have done everything we possibly can on that front.”

Southwell also race on Wednesday, although all cards are subject to strict biosecurity measures – including a declaration form confirming there have been no symptoms of flu and that a temperature check has been completed.

Only that, together with a horse passport showing an inoculation from within six months of the race meeting, will allow horses to be unloaded at a racecourse.

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