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The Woodward and a Flu Update

It’s nice to see that the Woodward is drawing a competitive field — Lawyer Ron will likely be the headliner after his career-best performance last time out, but Diamond Stripes and Corinthian are certainly worthy competitors. I’m going with sentiment and sticking with Brass Hat to win, but would not be surprised to see a fight to the finish involving almost all the entrants; I’m overlooking Sun King, Magna Graduate, Wanderin Boy and Political Force, which may prove to be foolish, but I love my Brass Hat.

In Australia, there are further developments in the equine influenza outbreak; a plan is being prepared that would allow some horses from New South Wales to participate in the Melbourne Spring Carnival under strict guidelines, although naturally racing and training time would still be lost:

Allanson [Racing Victoria chief executive Stephen Allanson] said NSW trainers may have to adopt similar training methods used by international trainers.

He said such training regimens, which would require horses to run first-up in races such as the Caulfield Cup or Cox Plate or Melbourne Cup, was far preferable to the alternative — not to run.

“It will just be something new for Australian trainers,” Allanson said. “They would have to raid the Victorian carnival on the same basis as the Europeans. It’s going to be a different experience.”

More on the loss of training and racing opportunities can be found at BBC News, which summarizes the current situation well for an international audience — it brings the real impact of lost chances, jobs and money into sharp focus.

A number of major trainers (including Bart Cummings and Gai Waterhouse), jockeys and track workers are under something of a human quarantine as well, since the virus is easily spread by human contact with infected horses; they are currently excluded from facilities in Victoria (where racing will resume on Saturday) as their charges have tested positive in New South Wales.

The outbreak is also affecting the air cargo industry as New Zealand’s ban on Australian horses remains in place during what is typically the busiest time of the year for horses to fly between the two countries.

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