Horse flu hits hard at Rosehill

Society Materials 8 October 2007 07:08

(The Australian News) - CHRIS Waller and his fellow Rosehill trainers have been preparing for the worst for the past six weeks but are still shattered to learn they are the latest victims of the equine influenza (EI) outbreak.

Horses at Waller's stable situated on the racecourse as well as others in Tim Martin's yard were confirmed with the disease overnight, 24 hours after it was detected at Jack and Allan Denham's complex 200m away across James Ruse Drive.

The news that EI had hit Rosehill came eight days after all horses had received their first vaccinations with boosters due this week.

Waller's vet Tim Roberts experienced EI first hand in South Africa 20 years ago and was one of the first to recognise the virus in horses at a Centennial Park equestrian centre last month.

"Tim Roberts has been right from day one and says you just can't beat it," Waller said.

"We had hoped we had, but now what we are hoping for is that the vaccination they had means they won't get it as badly as some other horses.

"So far they are not as sick as we expected.

"I had four yesterday and another two with high temperatures today.

"We have had time to prepare so it's not the shock it would have been.

"The worst thing for any trainer is to see the horses get sick. You are with them 16 hours a day and the last thing you want to see is your best mates get sick - they don't know what's happening."

Two of the horses in Waller's stable, Big Al Hazim and Honor In War, were imported from overseas and were vaccinated before they came to Australia.

"They are fine, they are not sick," Waller said.

"I have one barn with 40 horses and that's where the infected horses are.

"I have another barn with ten horses and there's nothing there so hopefully it won't spread as much as it did at Randwick and Warwick Farm.

"All the trainers here are sticking together and supporting each other and we will get through this."

Racing officials had planned to stage an in-house meeting at Rosehill in two weeks with Randwick and Warwick Farm both out of action due to EI.

The main hope now for the multi-million industry are the Newcastle and Central Coast areas where horses have also received their first inoculations.

There was a scare yesterday when two horses from Alan Scorse's Newcastle stable had high temperatures but tests were negative to EI.

Meetings restricted to locally-trained horses were held at Canberra and Port Macquarie yesterday, a far cry from what should have been "Super Saturday" at Randwick featuring four Group One races including the Epsom and Metropolitan Handicaps.