Monday 11 February
Fences Farm remains on lockdown after the equine flu outbreak. All racing is abandoned until Wednesday at the earliest, and we await an update on that situation later today from the BHA. Yesterday signs were positive that we would be underway again mid week, but confirmation that 4 new cases have been discovered in a yard in Newmarket may well change this. Stuart took his swabs into The Animal Health trust on Friday, but as yet he has not had the results back, but he is happy with the health of his horses. I think that so far, the way the BHA have handled things is fine, they have been decisive in their actions, and have been excellent with their communication. BUT, going forward, they need to assess their actions very carefully - as they may have lit the blue touch paper under a very big firework indeed. It is not unreasonable to think that if they test every yard in the country, they will uncover more positive cases, than were ever considered. Horses get sick - humans get sick - it is a fact of life, and just because there have been no reported cases of this strain of equine flu in the vaccinated population until now, it doesn't mean that they were not there, as symptoms in vaccinated animals are not as severe as those in the unvaccinated population, and could well be passed of as little more than a head cold. If racing has to be seen to be free of this virus before it resumes, this could well be a very long and damaging period. This scenario is also likely to push this problem underground, with an increase in unreported cases - let us hope that they come to a sensible decision over the course of the next couple of days. We obviously have a vested interest in this, as Queenohearts is due to make her third hurdling start of the season in the Grade 2 Jane Seymour Novices Hurdle in Sandown on Friday. This has been the target for her since she won a Listed Hurdle in Haydock just before Christmas, so hopefully we will be back on by then. QOH is in good form, and has had a very specific programme all season, and hopefully she stays on track. Also entered on Friday is Our Bubba, in the 2m novices hurdle. OB ran a lovely race on hurdling debut in Uttoxeter, and is a cracking long term prospect, as he will only strengthen and improve as he matures and develops.He will also have entries in Huntingdon and Wincanton over the weekend as well. Molly Childers didn't get to run on Sunday, and will have an entry in Warwick on the 22nd. Lilly's Arc seems fine after her Ayr trip - with no sore shins, and no runny nose. Classic Ben is also fine after Sandown, and will head to Uttoxeter in mid March. Pull Together is back and going great - he scoped clean last week, and his work is on the increase - can't wait to see him over fences again! Getaway Mixie is close to running again. Her Point to Point form now looks very good indeed, as the winner of her final outing in that sphere won a very hot Listed hurdle against the boys in Punchestown yesterday, that marks her out as one of the best novice hurdlers of her generation. We have to hope that Getaway Mixie can get back to her best, as she certainly has the ability and form - hopefully her horrendous experience in the spring has not affected her in some way, and she can prove what a good mare she is. Figarella Borget has done nothing but please, and her debut in a bumper is keenly anticipated - when she is back up to full speed we will make a plan for her, although it would be silly to get her up to fever pitch when everyone is unsure as to when racing will resume. It will be a waiting game with her. It is also great to have Land League back at Fences Farm - fingers crossed we can get a clear run with this lovely horse, and he too can show his full ability over the course of the spring and summer months.