Foot-and-mouth outbreak claims Windsor Show

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The Independent Online

There was more gloom for the horse industry yesterday when foot-and-mouth disease caused the cancellation of another three major equestrian fixtures - the Royal Windsor Horse Show, Chatsworth Horse Trials and the Bramham Three-Day Event.

There was more gloom for the horse industry yesterday when foot-and-mouth disease caused the cancellation of another three major equestrian fixtures - the Royal Windsor Horse Show, Chatsworth Horse Trials and the Bramham Three-Day Event.

The majority of Britain's top show-jumping riders had planned to take part at the Windsor fixture from 9-13 May. The venue covers part of the Home Park, which is administered by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, and the Great Park, which is under the jurisdiction of the Crown Estate. Both organisations had taken advice before deciding that they "would not be prepared for the event to happen on their land due to the potential risk of spreading the disease''.

The loss of Chatsworth (12 and 13 May) and Bramham (7-10 June) leaves British event riders with no immediate goal. In a policy statement issued yesterday by British Eventing, it was announced that the current season had been abandoned completely until 31 May. June fixtures must also be in doubt, with Bramham (where the Yorkshire estate has a working farm) already abandoned.

According to yesterday's statement: "Competition will not commence in a restricted area until veterinary advice is supportive and British eventing does not anticipate this will be less than 28 days after the last known outbreak. The provision of a limited programme of events in unrestricted areas and only of competitors from unrestricted areas will be considered. This will be subjected to the agreement of all relevant parties and their ability to comply with Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food guidelines and British Eventing obtaining MAFF approval to commence.''

Tonight's horse racing at Wolverhampton is under threat following a confirmed case of foot-and-mouth at a farm just a few miles from the course. Course officials were last night waiting to hear whether the MAFF has placed the track within the boundaries of the infected area. Racing is set to resume at Exeter next Thursday, however, after the last two meetings at the Devon track were cancelled due to the outbreak.

The Football Association and the Government have ruled out further changes to the football programme to help the battle against foot-and-mouth disease unless there is new advice from veterinary experts. The FA has, however, called on fans not to travel to matches if they live within exclusion zones.

Ireland's football authorities said yesterday that domestic football would resume this weekend with the exception of County Louth, where the country's first outbreak was confirmed. A ban will remain on football clubs travelling to Britain and on visits from British clubs. Irish teams could travel to continental Europe only with the FAI's consent.

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