After a week on the side lines, racing - and this blog - are back! Last week equine flu virus entered the racing world, bringing all racing to a standstill. The BHA took the hard decision to stop racing for a week, and the Animal Health Trust have done one of the biggest screenings for a disease ever performed. It was a bold decision to take, but it was absolutely the right one with everyone now knowing where they stand with this strain of flu, rather than operating on guesswork. Racing being made possible today was in the hands of the nerds at Animal Health Trust, who have been working around the clock to test thousands of swabs. They have done an amazing job and we owe them a huge debt of thanks for making it possible for us to be racing again today. The results that have appeared so far really show how effective flu vaccinations are and why they are so important. The flu is not spreading like the wildfire that it can be and the horses that do have it are reportedly hardly showing any signs of illness at all. Fortunately for us, our master trainer takes no chances and has the entire string vaccinated twice a year.
While the week off has been most unwelcome, it has given the master trainer’s kidneys and liver a much-needed rest, while the staff have also had the chance to unwind. Our young stable jockey, Tom Cannon, seized the opportunity to have a break from his new role as a father and went skiing with his mates for a week.
Today we have three runners at Plumpton, who have all won there previously. First up is Baddesley Knight in the 2.10 Novices’ Hurdle, who is two from two at this course. He is second favourite behind Acey Milan, who finished fourth in last seasons Champion Bumper and is carrying 6lbs less. Fingers crossed Baddesley Knight can shoulder the penalty and make it three from three at Plumpton.
Next up is Ballyheigue Bay in the 3.10 Handicap Hurdle. Hopefully a return to hurdles will rekindle his form, but he’s still a few pounds higher in the handicap than when he won here last season.
Lastly, we have Seaweed making his belated debut over fences in the 3.40 Novices’ Handicap Chase for the Chris Gordon Racing Club. He’s carrying top weight but we’re hopeful that if he takes to fences well then, he will have a good chance.
Tomorrow we head to our favourite course, Fontwell, where King Cnut should have a good chance if the ground continues to dry. We’ve still yet to find the key to ex-Mullins trained Itsonlyrocknroll who runs in the Handicap Hurdle, maybe Willie still has it... Mount Windsor is a nice horse that makes his debut in the Bumper, he looks a horse for the future and hopefully he will enjoy his first race.