Bookmakers have reported that revenues have taken a hit following the news that new cases of the Equine Influenza virus have been identified, resulting in an industry-wide halt on the sport.
The horseracing industry is currently facing its largest health and financial challenge since the the 2001 outbreak, with Ladbrokes-Coral owner GVC reported to be down 1.45 per cent, while William Hill was down 0.92 per cent and Paddy Power Betfair at a 0.08 per cent loss. The impact on smaller, independent bookmakers is yet to be seen, however.
The BHA has reported that following initial reports of the outbreak, four further positive tests for equine influenza have been identified in vaccinated thoroughbreds at a Newmarket yard.
The affected yard, which is that of Simon Crisford, is just one of the 174 yards which have been obliged to undergo testing following the fact that runners from the stables competed at Newcastle on 5 February.
Media reports have estimated that the overall costs to racing will be in the region between £150m to £200m, with racing fixtures such as the Super Saturday at Newbury expected to cost bookmakers up to £2m a day.
The cancellation of race meetings raises significant concerns for UK bookmakers, as the blow to gambling income will subsequently result in the reduction of contributions paid to the industry via the betting levy.
Since the outbreak, the BHA and Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) have agreed to pay a contribution to owners or trainers for the costs incurred where the BHA has required samples to be taken, including the cost of the swabs and the veterinary fees involved.
The BHA commented: “We are working on the exact details with the NTF and HBLB and will confirm the reimbursement policy and process as soon as possible, but it will be based on a fixed fee per horse sampled.
“The BHA is extremely grateful to HBLB for their important support and contribution.”