Saturday, April 23, 2016


It was really nice to go to Wolverhampton on Tuesday with Indira.  It was a very pleasant day weather-wise.  Indira ran very well to be a close second to a very nice horse (even if the closeness of the margin flatters her, as we had a cut at the winner but were making no further inroads in the last 100m, and I think that the winner had a fair bit left in the locker).  And it was our first trip to the races for a month (since she had won over the same course and distance 31 days previously, to be precise) so it was good to get back into the groove.

It was particularly good to get back into the groove as we had actually been ineligible to run horses for part of that month.  Cherry Street went lame behind on Friday 8th April, and the complicating factor was that he had an elevated temperature that day (which dropped back to normal the next day).  We are lucky enough to be able to use the excellent vet David Dugdale, former Chairman of the British Equine Veterinary Association and one of the senior partners of the Newmarket Equine Hospital.  However, Cherry Street's owners had always had Rossdales looking at their horses, and when Cherry arrived here from Denis Quinn's stable in early February I had said to them that we use David, but if they wanted to keep the same vet overseeing their horse, that was fine by me.

Anyway, a Rossdales' vet looked at Cherry Street that Friday evening - and, to my surprise, the next morning he decided that the horse might be suffering from the deadly EHV herpes virus, and closed us down.  Cherry Street had not been anywhere since he had run at Chelmsford on 11th March.  No horses had arrived here during that time, and we had only had had one runner since then (Indira winning at Wolverhampton on 19th March).  This provisional diagnosis was slightly hard to understand, but the vets are deemed to be the experts, and in them lies the power.  Anyway, the gist of it was that, if Cherry Street had EHV, he was odds-on to be dead by the end of the day.  (The virus attacks the brain and the horses loses control of his rear end).

Rossdales' personnel appeared, dressed as if to decontaminate Chernobyl, and took the lame Cherry Street away to the Rossdales' quarantine unit.  No other horse could leave this stable as we were in, to use one of my favourite phrases, "lockdown".  It was very impressive, a text-book demonstration of how to cope with a horse struck down with a very serious and infectious virus.  The only snag, of course, was that it soon became clear that the EHV suggestion had been a misdiagnosis.  I obviously didn't venture into Rossdales' isolation unit to see Cherry Street, but apparently he was back to normal by Sunday morning (when, by rights, he ought to have been dead) and the vet whose misdiagnosis had triggered our 'lockdown' was already telling Cherry Street's owner by Sunday afternoon that it would have been impossible for the horse to have made the recovery which he had made if he had had the virus.

So that was all a storm in a tea-cup - except for the fact that the (sensible) BHA protocols put in place to prevent the spread of disease dictate that when there has been a diagnosis of a possible EHV case, the restrictions which are put in place can't be removed overnight.  Cherry Street had to have four tests to check that he did not have the virus.  The first test result came through on the first Saturday afternoon - negative.  On the Monday the second and third results came through - negative.  The following day the fourth test result came though - negative.  At this point the Animal Health Trust confirmed that the horse was EHV-free.

You might have thought that that would have been the end of a four-day f***-up.  However, the (sensible) protocol is that, once the horse is decreed to be EHV-free, one has to wait another week so that further observation can be made and a further test can be taken, just in case anything has been missed.   So, our 'lockdown' remained until Tuesday this week, when we celebrated our re-integration into the outside world by taking Indira to Wolverhampton.  Happily, the 'lockdown' proved to be merely a minor inconvenience, as we only had one entry (Zarosa at Southwell) during the period in which we could not have runners, and I feel that we wouldn't have run her anyway.

The three heroes were David Dugdale, who went well beyond the call of duty in providing both his usual sound counsel and intercessions on our behalf while liaising between the various authorities (and being kind enough never to mention that the whole debacle had only come about because of the decision to use the rival practice for Cherry Street); BHA vet Jenny Hall (who could not have been more helpful throughout, notwithstanding that she was obliged to apply rules of which we were the victims, and who oversaw the case in a way which showed her to be a credit to herself and to her employers); and Jockey Club Estates Manager Nick Patton, who organised things so that we could continue to train the horses.

From the first Monday onwards, although our horses were not allowed to have any contact with the rest of Newmarket's herd, we were allowed to exercise the horses in the afternoons once all the others were back in their stables.  Hence Hannah, Jana and I were riding out in the afternoons between 1.00 and 4.00 during the period.  Thus no horse who is anything like close to racing had his/her preparation interrupted - as Indira demonstrated by posting what James Willoughby has told me was the best performance of her life to date on the day that the restrictions were lifted.

So that's that - and let's hope that our next runner (Roy, who is set to resume at Brighton on Tuesday, my having eschewed the option of taking him to his favourite course last Tuesday because of all the rain which had fallen) can also show himself to be in good form.  You can see Roy in the fifth picture behind Gus and Bean, and then see his the tips of hi ears in the seventh picture, behind Zarosa and Indira, and then also see his ears in this ninth picture, in which he is on the left and his half-sister So Much Water is on the right.  (And these photographs, by the way, are not representative of the overall weather of the past week, which has not been nearly as balmy overall these shots of the best bits might imply).


neil kearns said...

John what sort of a camera are you using ?

neil kearns said...

interesting to see the system works as it should do , as those public information films used to say what a pity they let it happen in the first place !!

John Berry said...

These are all on my phone, Neil. My camera is broken and, even though it's under guarantee, I haven't yet got round to going back to the shop to get a replacement. The phone works so well that it's easy to get into the habit of just using that.