Onwards and upwards ...

We all have to be vigilant

Thursday, 07 February 2019

"What a bargain grandchildren are! I give them my loose change, and they give me a million dollars’ worth of pleasure."

Gene Perret.

First lot are walking to the start of the canter

There is no hiding place from the wind this morning out on the heath. There is a good constant blow with very strong gusts at frequent intervals. Thank goodness it’s not raining though and the temperature is above freezing. Plenty of layers are what is required. Everybody is in and we have been keeping very close to home, just doing a good walk and trot, followed by a steady canter. It is safer with the horses in their boxes as there is a lot of debris blowing about everywhere. We are also forecast a dollop of rain and if this wind keeps up it will be most unpleasant for the next few days.

Second lot cantering up Hamilton Hill

Velvet Voice leading Belle Bayeux and Quanah

The big news this morning is that equine flu has meant the cancellation of all race meetings today and I am not sure as to how long this will continue. The BHA has been warning us for a while now that there have been cases on the continent and in Ireland, plus a few isolated ones here in Britain. I have also been telling you for a long time that it was only a matter of time before something like this happened. This outbreak seems to be in vaccinated horses, which is even more worrying, and the BHA has quite rightly tried to cut the transmission from horse to horse down as quickly as possible. There are a few symptoms to look out for but a snotty nose, higher temperature, off their feeds and glands up are the main ones to look for. But, at this time of year and with horses moving about as much as they do, you would occasionally get ones like this which would be overlooked. How do you stop all this? Well, biosecurity and cleanliness is the main way, keeping everything well disinfected and taking all the precautions you can. If a horse shows any sign then get the vet in straight away and keep it in its stable. Let’s hope it is short lived, but it may not be.

We have so much racing nowadays and with racecourses wanting more and more fixtures they don’t have time to clean the stables properly. I am also certain they do not use the right disinfectant either. Even yesterday at Ludlow horse feed was found in a stable from the previous meeting. A horse had already been put in the box before it was discovered. It obviously hadn’t been mucked out, or disinfected, as all this costs money and manpower, which the racecourses say they cannot afford, or it is a cost cutting measure. We have had a lot of examples in recent months of this. We also have a sale nearly every day, horses are running all over the world and transporters bring them in from every point of the globe. All this is very exciting for certain people but it means the risk of an outbreak is enlarged and this is possibly what is happening in this case. There is also a rise of pre-training yards, who are not licenced and are under financial pressure, and that, once again, increases the risk of infection as they move from yard to yard. The BHA seem to be powerless in preventing an outbreak and I just hope that this now concentrates a few more minds, but it will cost a lot more money.

It is certainly very windy this morning

I am pleased to see the Chelmsford turf track has been delayed until at least the autumn of 2020. As you know I have always been a great supporter of Chelmsford as they put on great prize money and everybody tries very hard. But this grass track idea will only suit pony racing and, I think, will cause more injuries as the bends are so tight. I know they have the aim to be the first floodlit turf track but to my mind it is a big mistake.