Thu, 14 Feb 2019
NATIONAL Hunt racing trainer Oliver Sherwood believes the Cheltenham Festival won’t be affected, despite the recent outbreak of equine flu.
A six-day suspension for racing in Britain has now been lifted by the British Horseracing Authority, meaning that racing restarted yesterday (Wednesday).
The decision to restart the racing was questioned by some, but Sherwood – whose stables are in Upper Lambourn – believes it was the right call.
“I think they behaved and performed admirably,” he said. “I know people thought it was over the top, but they were in a position where 100 per cent of people would not have been behind them.
“But that’s life in general and whatever they did was going to be wrong – you’re damned if you did and damned if you didn’t.”
Six cases of equine flu were found at Donald McCain’s stables in Cheshire and, although it appeared to have been contained there, Sherwood felt it was right to stop racing.
He said: “Until they knew exactly what the strain of flu was coming, they had to err on the side of caution and, as Martin Pipe said, it is better to be over the top than under the top.
“I think they did the right thing and I think they’re doing the right thing now,” he said. “I am not a vet by any matter of means, but a few days off to play safe is good.”
Sherwood feels enough work was done among the stables up and down the country to enable racing to resume on Wednesday.
With the Cheltenham Festival just four weeks away, Sherwood’s preparations weren’t affected as much as fellow trainers.
“It hasn’t affected me as I didn’t have any runners on that Wednesday when it was all announced so I wasn’t blacklisted,” he said.
But, despite 26 meetings being halted during the six-day shutdown, Sherwood doesn’t believe that Cheltenham will be affected.
“I don’t think it will,” he said. “I don’t have any runners there, if I do it will only be a handful, but for the big trainers such as Nicky [Henderson], Colin [Tizzard], Paul [Nicholls] and Philip [Hobbs], it’s an inconvenience for them.
“It’s the time of year where they would have wanted preparation runs and whether they’ll run again is up to the trainers.
“But I don’t think it will have an effect on Cheltenham,” he said. “Some people could argue that it might be beneficial for English runners because they’ll be going there fresh with few races under their belts.”