Igugu Racehorse
Igugu Racehorse

Igugu - Behind Bars

(Photo : JC Photos / Summerhill Stud)

J&B MET (Grade 1)

Kenilworth, Turf, 2000m

28 January 2012

David Thiselton - Gold Circle
David Thiselton - Gold Circle

David Thiselton

Gold CircleDue to an outbreak of African Horse Sickness (AHS) within a 30km radius of her home base, Randjesfontein, Summerhill champion filly and  J&B Met favourite Igugu, as well as a number of other Highveld-based horses including fellow Summerhill contender Smanjemanje, will be stabled at the Kenilworth Quarantine Station in the days before to the big race.

Cape Town is in the AHS control zone and the State Vet has decided that all horses from the state-of-the-art training centre travelling down to compete on J&B Met day must be placed in quarantine.

Igugu travelled to Cape Town on Tuesday night and the decision has trainer Mike de Kock seething.

The culicoides midge that carries African Horse Sickness is a nocturnal insect and any horse staying in the vector protected conditions will have to be locked up two hours before dusk until two hours after dawn.

De Kock is worried because it is impossible to check up on the horses except through a viewing window. He also said that when Silver Flyer was taken out of the quarantine station on a visit to the Cape earlier in the season the horse sweated up and misbehaved.

De Kock pointed out that Investec Cape Derby contender Potala Palace, who is based at Randjesfontein, had travelled with two raiders from the central Joburg training centre at Turffontein, which is currently not an infected area. Potala Palace joined Igugu at the Kenilworth Quarantine Station, while the Turffontein horses will be based in the holding boxes at Kenilworth.

South Africa’s champion trainer said : “I am aware that AHS is not a contagious disease, but it seems ridiculous that they can travel in the same truck. They should either all have to stay in quarantine or all be allowed in the holding boxes.”

He confirmed that Racing South Africa had done everything within their power to facilitate the participation of Igugu and his other raiders at the meeting.

Racing South Africa boss Peter Gibson said that nobody wanted to see any horses residing in conditions that disadvantaged them, adding that the outbreak had occurred at an unfortunate time.

The State Vet’s ruling was made within a set of principles with the sole purpose of preventing any possibility of AHS being transported into the AHS control area.

There are three rules for any horses departing to the AHS control zone from an area where there is no AHS infection within a 30km radius :

1. A private veterinary surgeon must check the horse to see that it is fit to travel.

2. The vet must then apply to the local State Vet for a movement permit. The State Vet will ascertain whether there is an acceptable lack of risk of importing AHS.

3. The Western Cape State Vet must then be notified of the travel arrangement.

Horses travelling from an area that had been infected by AHS within 30 days of intended departure and within a 30km radius were formerly not allowed to travel into the AHS Control Area, but a special “Red Cross Permit” has now allowed horses from such areas to compete in high-profile races in Cape Town.

In terms of the Red Cross Permit :

1. Before departure the horses must be vector protected as best as possible.

2. A real time PCR test must be taken as close to departure as possible to check for the presence of the AHS virus.

3. The horses must be transported in a sealed vehicle directly to the Kenilworth Quarantine Station where they will be stabled under vector-protected conditions.

If these rules are followed, in the unlikely event of a horse being infected between the time of the PCR test and its departure, there will be no chance of AHS being transmitted to the midge population in the AHS control area.

Horses from areas of different AHS status can travel together because AHS is not contagious and it was assumed that the horses were loaded during a time of day when the midge is not active.

Mike de Kock’s comment was : “The PCR test is a wonderful bit of science (it returns a yes or no answer for AHS within an hour or two of a sample being taken). We are hanging our hat on this test as far as our re-admittance to the EU goes. Perhaps we should have more faith in it ourselves. Why can’t another PCR test be done in Cape Town? If it is clear, there should be no reason for the horse to stay in quarantine. Are we not over complicating things?”

As for Igugu’s wellbeing, De Kock said she had scoped 100% clear, had a good blood picture and that her final gallop had been good. Igugu, of course, had to be scratched from the Paddock Stakes earlier this month after contracting an upper-respiratory tract infection.

Extract from www.goldcircle.co.za