Racing: Foot-and-mouth outbreak threatens Cheltenham

Officials at Cheltenham are holding their breath after it was revealed that the course falls just outside a foot-and-mouth infected area.

Officials at Cheltenham are holding their breath after it was revealed that the course falls just outside a foot-and-mouth infected area.

A case of the disease has been confirmed at nearby Sandhurst.

Any continued spread of the disease closer to the racecourse would mean the end of hopes of staging the Festival next month.

A suspected case near Lingfield has also been reported, while the disease has caused the cancellation of the remainder of the point-to-point season.

Cheltenham are keeping their fingers crossed that the rescheduled Festival, set for April 17-19, can still go ahead.

Managing director Edward Gillespie said: "We are one mile away from the eastern border of that infected area but thankfully we are still outside.

"Sandhurst is nine miles away from us in a straight line which is about 15 kilometres.

"But it would only have to shift about five kilometres to prompt the infected area being extended.

"It is not good news but at least we are still on."

A suspected case of foot-and-mouth disease in Surrey could threaten racing at Lingfield.

Ian Renton, spokesman for Lingfield's owners Arena Leisure, said: "I understand there is a suspected case approximately five miles away.

"We will wait and see what happens.

"There have been other suspected cases, there are more and more everywhere."

Meanwhile point-to-point racing will not resume until January next year following a decision to abandon all remaining fixtures this season.

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