Farmers urge stop to racing resumption

The National Farmers' Union in England have appealed for racing not to resume tomorrow.

The National Farmers' Union in England have appealed for racing not to resume tomorrow.

NFU president Ben Gill has written to racing's authorities asking them not to take part for at least the next seven days.

The foot and mouth disease caused the suspension of racing for a week, but that ban is now set to be lifted.

Gill said: "I know that what we are asking is very difficult and I in no way underestimate the degree of sacrifice involved.

"But farmers are extremely concerned about the possible spread of foot and mouth.

"I am well aware that we have resumed some movements from farm to abattoir, but the important point here is that these animals will be slaughtered and all movements will be under the strictest of conditions.

"They will not be returning to farms once they have left.

"There are many steeplechasers that are kept on farms with other livestock and these will leave farms and return.

"We must not take even the smallest risk when combating such a terrible disease.

"I cannot believe that anyone in the horse racing community would want to be involved in a long-running foot and mouth saga in the British countryside."

Gill also reiterated his appeal to all farmers and rural dwellers to stay away from major sporting events.

The three-day Cheltenham Festival which attracts around 150,000 racegoers each year is due to get under way on Tuesday.

Senior officials from the British Horseracing Board and Jockey Club will meet later today with the NFU to explain their stance.

The outcome of the meeting is unlikely to be known today.

Racing will restart at Lingfield Park tomorrow after the sport was halted for seven days because of the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

But following a thorough review of the Risk Assessment by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, it was decided that racing will go ahead, outside infected area.

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