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Fakenham racecourse boss 'delighted' sport to resume after shutdown

PUBLISHED: 16:11 12 February 2019

Chief executive and clerk of the course David Hunter at Fakenham Racecourse. Photo: IAN BURT

Chief executive and clerk of the course David Hunter at Fakenham Racecourse. Photo: IAN BURT

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A Norfolk racecourse boss who said an outbreak of horse flu could have major consequences has now said he is “delighted” the sport is set to resume from tomorrow.

Equine flu has been confirmed in Norfolk. Racing resumed at Fakenham on Friday, after British racing regulators enforced a six-day suspension after an outbreak in Cheshire. Photo: IAN BURTEquine flu has been confirmed in Norfolk. Racing resumed at Fakenham on Friday, after British racing regulators enforced a six-day suspension after an outbreak in Cheshire. Photo: IAN BURT

Racing regulators enforced a six day suspension after three cases of equine influenza were found at a Cheshire stables last week, and there were fears the shutdown could continue after further cases were discovered at a yard in Newmarket on Sunday.

But Fakenham racing chief David Hunter said the decision by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) to resume the sport from Wednesday, February 13, was a welcome one, ahead of the course’s Lycetts Raceday on Friday.

Mr Hunter, clerk of the north Norfolk course, said: “Everybody will be very much on their guard, [but] it’s great racing is back on”.

He added: “I think the actions of the racing authorities and the BHA were absolutely correct.

“They had to assess where things had gone and what it’s done to the sport.

“They are continuing to test, and we have to be prepared - you never know what other tests could find. But I’m delighted racing will resume tomorrow.”

Mr Hunter added that horses’ vaccination passports were checked ahead of every meeting.

He said: “I’m confident the processes put in place by the BHA are as robust as they can be.”

The racing authority said the decision to allow the sport to resume was “controlled [and] risk-managed”, and supported by vets.

The BHA’s chief regulatory officer, Brant Dunshea, said: “After analysis of thousands of samples, and no further positive tests on Monday, we still only have two confirmed sites of infection.

“We have put robust containment measures in place around both.

“There is some risk associated with returning to racing. This has been assessed and is viewed as acceptable.”

Mr Hunter previously said the suspension could have “major consequences” if the planned meet could not go ahead.

Speaking on Friday, February 7, he said: “We would be looking at quite considerable costs.

“We lost the last two race meetings to frozen weather and certainly don’t want to be losing another meet.”

But he added: “It’s early days but absolutely the right thing to have done - not an overreaction.”

No races are scheduled at Norfolk’s only other racecourse, in Great Yarmouth, until April.

READ MORE: Norfolk racecourse boss says ‘worrying’ horse flu outbreak could have ‘major consequences’

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