Well, a lot has happened since last week's blog - most notably that the whole of British Horseracing has ground to a halt!
After three horses from Donald McCain's yard tested positive for equine flu last week, the BHA decided to suspend all racing until next Wednesday to prevent the spread of the virus. It isn't a life-threatening illness and most horses who get it will just have a runny nose and feel down in the dumps for a while but it does spread very easily between horses and it is a strain from America so most horses here are not immune to it as their annual vaccines don't prevent against it.
A lot of people are unhappy about the stopping of race meetings but it probably isn't a bad thing as it means that we can all get on top of the bug and prevent it running riot in every yard. That being said, the majority of yards in Britain have had to have all their horses swabbed to see if they have the bug. This is just a sample of mucus on a cotton bud which is collected from each horse's nose and sent for testing at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket. We were tested on Friday afternoon and still haven't got the results back yet but you have to bear in mind that the laboratory dealing with the samples usually handles one or two flu cases a month - this weekend alone they have had to get through over 2000!
The annoying thing is that any yard who hasn't passed the swab test has very limited access to the Heath so we are more interested in that than having runners because there is no racing until Wednesday anyway. On Saturday we exercised most of the horses in our paddocks where they could have a steady canter to stretch their legs and we are very lucky to have access to so much land - if we didn't I guess the horses would just have to go on the walker like at some stables currently. We did send a team of gallopers up the Heath later in the day. Hopefully we will hear either today or Monday and can get back to normal. The BHA have told us not to have any visitors to the yard whilst this is on going so I must say thank you to all our owners for their patience and understanding in these circumstances.
No trainer is allowed to declare a horse to run until they have passed the tests so hopefully we will hear by Tuesday morning at the latest so I can plan this week's runners.
If racing does get the go ahead on Wednesday, we could be back on track straight away as new recruit Miss Green Dream is entered at Kempton that day. She was bought just last week at Tattersalls by a breeder who wanted a well-bred filly to race and she fits that bill perfectly as she comes from a great family. It is also a family full of stamina so we are stepping her up in trip straight away and I hope that is enough to get her to win as she has gone close in the past, including just two weeks ago. Although she hasn't been with us long, her work has been good enough and she seems to have the right attitude.
I entered a load of horses at Chelmsford on Thursday thinking that the field sizes might be small due to some yards not being allowed runners but I'd be surprised if that happens now so we might only have a couple of horses racing there.
Limerick Lord came good at Wolverhampton last time when a change of scenery from his usual haunt Southwell perked him right up and he won quite well. The handicapper upped him 4lbs in the ratings but he is still on a good mark based on last year's form so I hope he can use his new found confidence and keep the roll going.
Gas Monkey is also entered and looks one of the likelier runners. He was meant to go up to Newcastle on Friday before racing got abandoned so hopefully he can get some compensation this time as he is in fantastic form and really should be winning again soon.
Lulu Star has an entry too but she only ran last week so I'll see how she is before deciding whether to run. It proved a bit too hard to make the running at Kempton last time but she has won at Chelmsford before so maybe that will see her in a better light.
Both Winter Snowdrop and War Empress are entered in the novice race that day but it looks unlikely that they will take their chance unless there are only a few horses declared.
Thanks go to Carol Bushnell for this week's gallops photos.