Racecourses on high alert

Trainer Victor Dartnall has revealed that several of his horses are suffering from a neurological disease.

Dartnall, whose stables are at Higher Shutscombe near Barnstaple, is working closely with the British Horseracing Authority in an effort to keep the outbreak under control.

He said in a statement: "Over the last few days we have suffered an outbreak of a neurological disease in some horses.

"Initial test results support the cause to be neurological herpes virus. We are working very closely with our vets and the BHA and we are hopeful that we have the situation under control."

Professor Tim Morris, BHA's director of equine science and welfare, said: "We have been working with the trainer and his veterinary surgeon to ensure that the correct, robust security measures have been put in place.

"It is in theory possible that horses may have been infectious before the signs of the disease appeared.

"We have therefore contacted racecourses to alert them to possible exposure but stress that the actual risk of transmission of this virus in a controlled raceday environment is relatively small.

"This emphasises the importance of trainers being vigilant for signs of disease and in particular they should refer to the recently published NTF (National Trainers Federation) Code of Practice for Infectious Diseases of Racehorses in Training, which contains specific advice on surveillance for this disease and what to do if they have concerns that a horse in their care is showing the disease."

Dartnall has held a professional licence since 1998 and trained some useful jumpers including Giles Cross, winner of the Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock in February.