''Absolute Madness'' - Racing To Return A Month Before Cheltenham Festival, But Not Everyone Is Happy

''Absolute Madness'' - Racing To Return A Month Before Cheltenham Festival, But Not Everyone Is Happy
10:35, 12 Feb 2019

Late last night the news broke from the British Horseracing Authority that racing will resume on Wednesday with the BHA announcing there will be a "a risk-managed return to racing", as the calendar has ticked down to one month until the 2019 Cheltenham Festival takes place.

An outbreak of equine influenza forced racing in the UK to shutdown last week, but last night's announcement was met with a positive reaction from most quarters with Saturday's National Hunt card at Ascot set to be a thrilling showpiece with not only the Ascot Chase taking centre stage, but last week's abandoned Betfair Hurdle and Denman Chase at Newbury being rescheduled for Ascot this weekend.

While on the face of it all seemed rosy with the return of racing, the BHA's guidelines left some trainers unhappy.  The BHA stated:

the BHA has ordered that no entries or declarations will be accepted from horses that have not been vaccinated in the previous six months

Leading Jumps trainer Olly Murphy was certainly not impressed with the BHA's short-term measures and the news that horses have to have been vaccinated in the last six months and not the last 12 months as is the case normally.

Murphy said: "Absolute Madness. No pre warning of this, the rules have changed overnight and given us no indication another vac was needed until 11.30pm last night."

Top National Hunt jockey Charlie Poste also touched on the six-month vaccination gripe by commending the BHA with the handling of this recent case of equine influenza, but on the other hand questioning why the BHA didn't make trainers aware that this likely switch of regulation would occur.

Poste said:

I think @BHAPressOffice have handled everything admirably in spite of plenty of criticism however it might of made sense during last weeks enforced lay off to advise then that it was highly likely horses would need to have been vaccinated within the last 6 months to resume racing [CharliePoste]

Nick Williams was another National Hunt trainer that took a negative swipe at the BHA saying: 

Absolutely ridiculous for @BHAPressOffice to create a new rule overnight about horses needing vaccinations in past 6 months. This must have been in the pipeline for a few days and everyone could have been notified much before. Another 8 days without racing for us.

However, multiple champion trainer Paul Nicholls was more positive than his peers stating that his Ditcheat-based horses are given their vaccinations in January, so they will be raring to go when racing resumes.  Nicholls wrote on Twitter, "All mine vaccinated in January as we do every year."

James Millman on Twitter
James Millman on Twitter
Sporting Calendar