Equine influenza has infiltrated the centre of British racing with four horses in the Newmarket yard of Simon Crisford found to have the virus, it was revealed late on Sunday night.
The news is a setback after the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) had earlier in the day announced that there had been zero positive tests from about 1500 samples since it was found that six horses in the Cheshire yard of Donald McCain had the highly contagious illness.
There are about 70 licenced trainers in Newmarket and, between them, they train in the region of 3,000 horses. You can barely go anywhere in the Suffolk town without seeing a horse and such as John Gosden, Sir Michael Stoute and William Haggas are based there.
In addition, there are a large number of breeding operations in the area and at this time of the year there are multiple foals finding their feet there.
Crisford has been named by the BHA “in order to ensure that the Newmarket community is aware of the yard at which an infection has been identified”.
His 90-box Kremlin House Stables is one of the 174 which has been required to undergo testing because of the fact that runners from the stable competed at the fixture at Newcastle on Tuesday, which had been identified as a potential risk fixture.
The affected horses are all contained within his yard, which is close to those of Ed Dunlop and William Jarvis.
Crisford ran Sajanjil in a mile novices’ stakes at the all-weather venue. The four-year-old filly, who started 10-11 favourite, finished a one-paced fourth.
It is unclear whether she is one of the horses who has returned a positive test.
McCain did not have any runners at the Newcastle fixture. Horses from his yard, and that of Crisford, have raced part in recent weeks and there seems no link between them.
The Newcastle meeting came under scrutiny after Rebecca Menzies, who did have runners there, reported that three of her team were under the weather. However, this trio have since returned negative tests.
The Newmarket community – including licensed trainers, veterinary surgeries, farriers, racing school and all other relevant bodies – are being advised to continue to show increased vigilance in biosecurity.
“This information is being relayed to the Newmarket community immediately in order to ensure that appropriate action can be taken ahead of any morning activities,” the BHA statement read. “The BHA will be in further contact with Newmarket trainers tomorrow morning.”
Crisford was racing manager for Godolphin until leaving Sheikh Mohammed’s operation five years ago after the steroids scandal that led to trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni being banned for eight years.
He has subsequently made great strides as a trainer and last year he came close to his first Group One winner via Jash, who was runner-up to Ten Sovereigns in the Middle Park Stakes.
The BHA are due to announce on Monday whether racing can resume on Wednesday after a six-day shutdown.