A second Warrnambool racing stable has been temporarily locked down after Racing Victoria stewards confirmed an outbreak of the highly infectious disease strangles.
Stewards moved swiftly to isolate horses at the point of the initial outbreak at the Warrnambool racecourse on Thursday. They took further measures yesterday after learning horses had been transferred between the two stables.
Stewards believe they have controlled the disease which, if allowed to spread, could have crippled next week’s Warrnambool May Racing Carnival. Instead, the event is still on track.
Rob Montgomery, who will be chairman of stewards at the carnival, said they were confident the outbreak of strangles was under control.
“The samples have come back and they show strangles but we are confident that we have stopped any outbreak happening,” he said.
“We have taken the precaution to lock down another Warrnambool stable after we found horses have been transferred between the two stables.
“I wish to stress the second stable in question had shown no signs of the respiratory illness.
“We have only closed it as a precaution. The second trainer has been very co-operative in the matter.”
Five horses which had respiratory issues on Thursday had improved in health, according to the Racing Victoria steward.
“The vets have said those horses were showing signs of recovering which is a great sign for us,” he said.
“They should come back to good health over a period of time.”
All Warrnambool trainers have been notified by stewards and veterinary staff to keep a close eye on their horses over the next few days.
“The Warrnambool trainers have been advised to put biosecurity procedures in place.
“They must contact us straight away if their horses show any signs of a high temperature, nasal discharge or swollen lymph node glands in the throat.
“We’ve told them to check the temperatures of their horses twice daily and to monitor hygiene procedures,” Mr Montgomery said.
“We’re confident that we stopped an outbreak from happening but we are watching the situation very closely. With such a big carnival this week and so many horses at the course over the three days we will be monitoring things closely.”
The steward said he could understand that trainers from other areas of Victoria and South Australia who have runners at the carnival might be a bit wary about bringing runners to the meeting.
“It’s only natural that trainers and owners would be a bit toey about what has happened at Warrnambool over the past few days but, as I’ve told many of them today, we’re confident that we have stopped any outbreak from happening.
“From where we’re looking now we’re looking forward to another successful Warrnambool May carnival.”
Warrnambool Racing Club CEO John Green said due process had been followed on the issue.
“We’ve been guided by the experts on this matter,” he said.
“It’s out of the hands of the racing club. We can’t control things which are out of our hands. We can only look forward to the carnival commencing on Tuesday.”
Strangles is commonly transmitted by direct contact between horses and material contacted by nasal discharges, including racing gear.