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Christie's NI yard has lucky escape from flu

By Ron McKnight

Leading Northern Ireland trainer David Christie has revealed that one of his horses survived a scare after a UK-wide outbreak of equine influenza.

Christie's horse Marinero raced before the outbreak caused the suspension of all races across Britain until next Wednesday, February 13, but some quick thinking spared the horse.

Equine influenza is highly contagious and can be airborne, and horses which ran at both Ayr and Ludlow on Wednesday have been found to be infected.

Authorities first became aware of an outbreak in Europe in December last year.

Derrylin trainer Christie sent Marinero to Ludlow for Ulster-born owner and rider David Maxwell to partner into fourth in the open hunterchase.

"I was fortunate that I got word early from Dr Lynn Hillyer, the chief veterinary officer of the Irish Horseracing Regularity Board (IHRB), regarding the developing outbreak and, as the horse was in transit back from Ludlow, was able to make arrangements to relocate him 10 miles away from my yard in an isolation unit," said Christie.

"It's a worrying situation - I look for suitable races in Britain to run some of my horses but until the outbreak is sorted I can make no plans to race in Britain."

Last night, the IHRB issued a statement detailing that they and Horse Racing Ireland had agreed that racing will continue in Ireland at present, but runners from Britain will not be permitted to race until further notice.

Hillyer added: "The advice at the moment to Irish trainers is to sit tight and wait for more information. The situation in Britain is evolving rapidly and we therefore need to evolve our plans as well."

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