Uttoxeter Racecourse Executive Director David MacDonald has told Staffs Live that the sudden outbreak of equine influenza could cost Uttoxeter and its sister racecourses around £1.2million.
Uttoxeter was scheduled to host a race meeting this weekend but, due to the outbreak, the British Horse Racing Authority (BHA) has suspended all race meetings in the UK until Wednesday at the earliest.
Horse racing is the second most watched sport in the UK and the loss of revenue will affect racecourses all over the country – a problem MacDonald says the BHA needs to solve quickly.
But the decision to suspend racing was paramount to the horses’ safety.
“Uttoxeter is part of a wider group of 16 racecourses, and several of our other courses are affected by this,” said MacDonald.
“We estimate about £1.2 million will be lost over this 6-day period so you can imagine an extended break will have a significant effect on the businesses. Plus, 85,000 people’s livelihoods depend on horse racing and it’s an industry that generates billions of pounds to the economy which is why it’s so important the action the BHA take is decisive and nipped in the bud.
“It’s very disappointing to have lost a meeting, but equine welfare is our number one priority.
“We always say that the stars of the industry are the horses, so we think that the BHA have absolutely taken the right measures, been very decisive and taken steps to prevent what could have been a catastrophe but now, hopefully, will not be.”
Uttoxeter is scheduled to host the Midlands Grand National on March 16, although MacDonald is looking no further ahead than the coming days.
“We’re fully supportive of the action that’s been taken,” he said. “There’s testing going on and they’ve given themselves this break because the influenza doesn’t sure visible signs until after three days.
“So, hopefully by Monday, there will be much more testing done and we’ll have a better picture.
“I don’t think anyone can argue that it’s been anything other than excellent communication and action by the BHA.”