NH Fixtures & Sales Dates

Wed Feb 20
Doncaster, Ludlow
Thu Feb 21
Huntingdon, Sedgefield
Fri Feb 22
Exeter, Warwick

Cheltenham Festival 2019

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Entries & Recent Form

     Ramses De Teille - National Entries

Well as I write we are all of course waiting for news of if racing will resume on Wednesday with an announcement expected to be made later this evening.  I was quite hopeful over the weekend with no new reports but with the breaking news overnight of four news cases at Simon Crisford’s Newmarket yard being confirmed this surely puts Wednesday’s re-start in doubt.

It seems that Pond House is one of the lucky yards.  I had no runners involved in any of the meetings from which trainers were placed in ‘lockdown’ although as Charlie Mann has said we are all effectively in this state with no racing taking place.  Fortunately we have not had to swab our horses and we are not in the long queue for results of tests and waiting to be cleared.  We have entries later in the week and we are all set to run should racing get the go ahead.  At the weekend I am very much looking forward to the Grand National trial at Haydock should racing be on.  This morning we have confirmed Daklondike, Ramses De Teille and Vieux Lion Rouge for the race.  

We are quite lucky at Pond House with our own gallops that do not get used by ‘outsiders’.  My father was a leader in science in racehorses and we have had what I think our good bio-security measures in place in the yard.  We have several isolation units and all new horses our put in these areas when they first arrive.  Only after a period of time depending on the results of blood and tracheal washes tests so they ever join the main yard, once we are as sure they are completely healthy.  As part of our daily routine we take temperatures twice a day.  Our staff are instructed to report anything of 38.3c (101f) or higher immediately.  A raised temperature often is the first sign of any symptoms brewing from which we can monitor, isolate and take further tests on in our onsite laboratory for quick results.  We use disinfectant foot dips and mats and hand sanitisers as a matter of course and use protective jackets when dealing with any horses we are ever worried about.  All our stables are steam cleaned and fogged with disinfectant regularly as a matter of course.  I know lots of trainers do measures like this also and I think in general we do very well as an industry to prevent and contain any illness that arises. Trainers always try and do right by their horses and they know them best and I think it is best we do our job – we don’t run or even train sick horses!  We, like many yards vaccinate our horses twice a year and had in fact already done this in January as a matter of course before being advised by the BHA to do so if a horse had not been done in the last 6 months.

With regards to the BHA and the handling of the situation I think they have done a good job and are keeping everyone well informed.  I think and over reaction is better than no reaction.  I am however a little surprised there has not been more cases found if I am totally honest.  A bit like in humans whether a horse gets flu or not depends on how much virus they meet and how much immunity they have to that virus.  I often use the analogy that that a yard is like a school, the horses are the children and I am the headmaster.  We all know in any school it is impossible for everyone to be healthy at the same time. 

I do agree with the comments of well-respected Newmarket vet Piet Ramzan…

“Racing cancelled and our vets rushing around swabbing hundreds of quarantined horses…all for a non-notifiable endemic disease for which we should expect periodic flare-ups anyway…it’s equine flu, not Ebola”.

We know the strain of this current virus and the vaccines we are using contain the correct Florida 1 strain.  Hopefully the results will continue to show that the infection is not widespread in the vaccinated racehorse population and then racing and other equestrian activities can also resume. 

I do think mild weather this winter may have played a part in what is obviously a ‘bad’ flu year but we do have excellent vaccination protocols in the UK and I don’t think stopping racing indefinitely will prevent it happening completely.  I just hope the results from the AHT continue to come back fairly positively and racing can get back on track. 

I also hope they will be able to reschedule the Betfair hurdle and some of the other big races that were lost from Newbury on Saturday.  We had Nordic Combined entered in the richest handicap hurdle in Europe and it is always a great race.  Fingers crossed they will be able to do something to get some of these missed races back on although I appreciate it is not easy.

Tomorrow I am off to Liverpool for the revealing of the Grand National weights.  I have five entries in the race Vieux Lion Rouge, Ramses De Teille, Daklondike, Rathlin Rose and Van Gogh Du Granit. Although we know roughly what weights these horses will get it will be interesting to see what they will do with the top rated horse in the race Bristol De Mai.  As always, those at the top will be compressed but by how much?  It will be a good day out.

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