LEADING jockey Brian Hughes has branded the British Horseracing Authority’s handling of a return to racing in Britain following the equine influenza outbreak as ‘shambolic’.
Racing resumed yesterday following a six-day shutdown but Hughes, who has ridden 125 winners this season, said the protocols put in place were unfair.
‘It was good a idea to stop racing but, quite honestly, I think it’s now a bloody shambles,’ he told Metro.
‘Horses are testing clear and some of my trainers are still not allowed to run because some of the horses that ran at the Ayr meeting (on February 6) haven’t been cleared,’ said Hughes (pictured above).
‘I should have had five or six rides yesterday (Wednesday), but ended up with three. It’s the same on Thursday. I don’t know how many rides I have as I don’t know what’s been cleared to run.’
The Irishman rode Donald McCain’s Raise A Spark, who subsequently tested positive for flu after running at the Scottish track last week. But Hughes said the stringent measures put in place by the BHA, including new six-month vaccination requirements for horses, had created ‘an unlevel playing field’.
A number of trainers with horses that have not been vaccinated in the last six months have said they have been ‘unfairly prejudiced’ and Hughes added: ‘It’s pot luck whether your vaccines are in or out. It’s frustrating for owners — there is no compensation for them.’
The BHA has warned there could be a backlog in testing swabs from some yards meaning clearance to take part might not arrive in time.
In a statement, the regulator said: ‘The BHA has spelled out that it simply is not prepared to take any chances with the risk-management of its return to racing.’
■ 29 — Per cent strike rate at Sussex track Fontwell for trainer Alan King, who sends The Cull Bank to contest the 3.45 today. King had two winners yesterday
■ SOOQAAN (pictured), ridden by William Cox, wins at Southwell yesterday as racing resumed in Britain following a six-day shutdown caused by an outbreak of equine influenza
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