Equine flu halting UK horse racing same strain that hit 10,000 in Australia

Michael Searles
Epsom Races
Racing has been suspended in the UK until Wednesday at the earliest (Source: Getty)

The equine flu that has halted horse racing throughout the UK this weekend is the same strain that saw racing in Australia suspended for six months in 2007, according to Sky News.

The flu is a north American strain, named Florida Clade 1 and affected ten thousand horses during the outbreak in Australia.

“We have seen in non-thoroughbred horses that have presented with the illness prior to this event that it has involved that particular strain,” Brant Dunshea, the British Horseracing authority’s chief regulatory officer told Sky News.

"'We are working at the moment with the animal health trust to confirm that."

A number of animals tested positive in the UK earlier this week and racing was suspended until Wednesday at the earliest in a bid to minimise the risk of it spreading.

Now more than 2,100 animals have been tested nationwide as authorities try to isolate the flu.

Dunshea said that it was a “challenge” to get the “fine balance” between the public’s desire for racing and the welfare of the horses.

“Of course we all want to get back racing as quickly as we can, and we will do that,” he said.

"But we will do that in a safe, measured, responsible way as soon as is possible."

Racing was initially called off on Thursday after three of Donald McCain’s horses were found to be unwell at his yard in Chesire.