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Fakenham racecourse bosses fear financial losses from equine flu outbreak




Bosses of Fakenham racecourse are facing an anxious wait to see whether an outbreak of equine flu will force the cancellation of their fixture next week.

All horse racing meetings in Britain have been suspended until Wednesday at the earliest after three cases of the virus were confirmed yesterday.

At present, Fakenham is due to host its Lycetts Raceday meeting next Friday, February 15.

But chief executive David Hunter said a short time ago it was too early to say whether the fixture would go ahead or not.

Fakenham Racecourse chief executive David Hunter, seen here with jockeys at an earlier fixture, is awaiting news of whether the track can host its planned meeting next week
Fakenham Racecourse chief executive David Hunter, seen here with jockeys at an earlier fixture, is awaiting news of whether the track can host its planned meeting next week

He said: "I'm sure we will know where we're going by Tuesday night or Wednesday.

"It's impossible to say at the moment. It's new territory for all of us.

"The BHA (British Horseracing Authority) has been very quick in acting to try to see if the virus has been contained to one area."

BHA officials have indicated they hope to make an announcement early next week about when meetings may be able to resume.

But there is already concern within the industry about the possibility of the outbreak continuing for several weeks at a critical time of the year, during the run-up to the prestigious Cheltenham Festival next month.

A cancellation of next week's meeting at Fakenham would deal a further blow to the track following the abandonment of its last two fixtures because of heavy frost.

Mr Hunter said: "If we lose another fixture we would really start to take a blow financially.

"We're in the business of putting racing on, not calling it off. But there's nothing we can do about it.

"Racing will resume when the experts feel it is safe to do so. Equine welfare is absolutely paramount."

The next scheduled fixture at Fakenham after next Friday is on Monday, March 4.



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