Bookmakers back BHA as UK racing suspended

8 February 2019

A number of major bookmakers have come out in support of the British Racing Authority’s (BHA) decision to suspend all horse racing meetings until next week due to an outbreak of equine influenza.

Horse racing will not resume until February 13 at the earliest, with the BHA to meet on February 11 to discuss whether the suspension should be extended.

The decision has been made after the BHA consulted with more than 50 trainers and veterinarians over halting the spread of equine influenza.

Three vaccinated horses in trainer Donald McCain’s yard have been identified as carrying the disease. All horses that compete in UK racing events are required to be vaccinated.

“We are grateful to trainers and veterinarians for the rapid flow of information and feedback we have received,” the BHA said. “Because of this, we have been able to make an informed decision earlier than we expected and before we have any test results back from horses from the affected yards that travelled to the three meetings.”

Several leading bookmakers have backed the move, with William Hill issuing a statement to iGamingBusiness.com, saying the decision is in the best interests of the horses.

“Of course we do not want a more extended period without racing, but the BHA must act in the interests of equine welfare, a William Hill spokesperson said.

The spokesperson also said the bookmaker is fully prepared for any cancellations, citing its diversified range of products that enables UK customers to bet on a number of other horse racing events around the world.

“We have live racing from South Africa, France, India and the US whilst also showing all Irish racing and selected meetings from Dubai, South Korea, Germany, Mauritius, Hong Kong and South America,” the spokesperson said.

“International racing is popular with our customers and acts as an effective substitute when we lose British racing to the weather and football betting has grown substantially in recent years.”

Paddy Power Betfair is also backing the BHA with its decision to suspend racing activity, saying it expects the normal schedule to return before the end of next week.

In a statement, Paddy Power Betfair said: “We don’t expect any big decisions to be made on the hoof and the authorities have experience of how to deal with these situations.”

Image: Richard Humphrey