To the delight of many racing fans the shutdown of British horse racing is over!
Racing was suspended last week due to an outbreak of equine flu at Donald McCains stables in Cheshire. Three cases of the contagious virus were found at the yard and then a further three more were found.
A total of 23 meets were lost over the week and the outbreak forced 174 stables across Britain to be in lockdown. A second outbreak of the virus was found in Newmarket at Simon Crisfords yard. All four horses affected were to have said to have already been vaccinated.
Due to lost horse racing, Ascot will be hosting a nine-race card this Saturday which will include the Denham Chase. Paul Nicholls said he plans to run Clan Des Obeaux, the horse he trains, in the Denham Chase as part of prep for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. PaddyPower currently has Clan Des Obeaux at 8/1 for the Gold Cup next month. This could make for interesting viewing on Saturday to see how the third favourite runs.
However, it's not positive news for all trainers and stables. The BHA has said that not all stables can send horses to run straight away. The BHA have categorised each stable in terms of the risk of infection. The ability of horses returning is dependant of the risk each yard is categorised with. Only horses that have been vaccinated from the flu in the last six months can be entered.
The good news is that all horses should be fine in time for next months Cheltenham Festival. The festival is set to take place from Tuesday 12th March – Friday 15th March with the pick of the races, the Gold Cup, being on Friday. Colin Tizzard has revealed that last years winner, Native River, may have to go without a prep run this year due to the Denman Chase not being run at Newbury. Native River won't be run at Ascot due to the course being right-handed.
Even though Native River may not have a prep run, Paddy Power still has the horse at 4/1 to win the Gold Cup for a second time. The favourite for the race is Presenting Percy which Paddy Power are offering odds of 5/2 on.