Following the discovery of an outbreak of equine influenza on Wednesday evening, all race scheduled before today have been cancelled with many more set to follow over the course of the next few days.
This raises the question – just when will horse racing return to the UK? The big uncertainty at this point is just how severe the outbreak actually is, however as things stand the bookmakers are pretty confident that the sport will return to action before 18th February, this outcome being seen as most likely at odds of just 1/5.
This implies that there is an 83% chance that racing will return within two weeks although that would also mean that some big races could be affected, these including the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury.
Should the outbreak prove to be severe, then the implications will be more wide-ranging with the possibility that Horse racing will be suspended until 1st March or later.
Such a scenario would certainly cast doubts on whether the 2019 Cheltenham Festival will take place and it could even result in the Grand National being affected.
Nevertheless the short price on this outcome goes some way towards allaying fears that Cheltenham and the Grand National will be cancelled.
The immediate concern surrounds the welfare of countless numbers of UK-based horses. With major race meetings already under serious threat for the coming weekend, owners and trainers will be praying that the precautionary measures prove effective and that the current outbreak will be contained.