Sydney’s spring racing carnival will not go ahead after eight racehorses in the state tested positive for equine influenza.
Eight out of 10 horses from the Anthony Cummings stable tested positive to the virus, forcing Randwick racecourse, the biggest track in Sydney, to be shut down.
“It is more than a disaster, it is a grim, black day,” Racing New South Wales chief executive Peter V’Landys said.
Randwick racecourse is set to be quarantined for approximately two months, meaning the Sydney spring racing carnival is effectively over.
While Sydney racing is in turmoil, officials in Melbourne are gearing up for a return to racing on Saturday.
An 11-race card is scheduled for Caulfield with many Emirates Melbourne Cup fancies needing to approach full fitness before the race that stops a nation.
And Racing Victoria is taking no risks with the return to racing, setting up an exclusion zone at the track, so horses are separated from the general public.
“Because the greatest risk of disease transfer from horse to horse is between humans, contact between those working with the horses on race day and the general public is to be kept to a minimum by establishing an human contact exclusion zone at each racecourse,” said Racing Victoria’s director of veterinary services Dr John McCaffrey.
“This exclusion zone will only be accessible by licensed person (trainers, jockeys, stable staff) and authorised or accredited officials and club personnel.
“Those persons gaining access to this area will be required to follow strict biosecurity protocols and once in this area, these people will be prohibited from any contact with the general public.”
No horses trained in Sydney will be permitted to run at Caulfield, and Racing Victoria has put a ban on top jockeys from the state, meaning Hugh Bowman and Darren Beadman will not be able to ride in Victoria until further notice.
Bowman has just returned home after a successful stint at Mick Channon’s stables in West Ilsley while he and Beadman were part of the Rest of the World team that won the Shergar Cup at Ascot earlier this month.
“This is a matter of risk management,” Racing Victoria’s director of integrity services, Des Gleeson said.
“We are uncertain as to what contact these two riders may or may not have had with the virus and therefore believe it is too large a risk to be permitting to ride at this point in time.”
“We have likewise advised the NSW-based trainers who have horses stabled in Victoria entered here over the weekend that they should not be attending the races here either. This decision will be reviewed as further information comes to hand.”