The Telegraph has disclosed that the thoroughbred racehorse breeding programme that services the mares owned by the Queen has been forced to temporarily close due to an outbreak of highly infectious disease.
The Jockey Club’s National Stud had to stop breeding after the discovery of equine herpes virus.
It was confirmed by sources that the centre in Newmarket was going to be receiving the latest batch of royal-owned mares sometime in the next few weeks.
Marketing director, Brain O’Rourke said that everything was being done possible to isolate the virus after test results on a filly who arrived on January 20 from overseas showed she was infected. O’Rourke said: “It’s highly contagious and, because we are so close to Newmarket where there are 3,000 horses in training, we are shutting down the
“It’s highly contagious and, because we are so close to Newmarket where there are 3,000 horses in training, we are shutting down the stud, with no public access. We are setting the standard by being ultra, ultra cautious, taking every precaution and leaving nothing to chance.”
Equine herpes is a viral disease that is passed in the same way a cold is. Fatalities in the United Kingdom are rare, but it can lead to large-scale abortions at breeding farms.
“The animal will be in quarantine for 30 days,” Mr O’Rourke continued. “All the tests show she’s not been passing it on. We are testing every two days and we will do so for the next month.”
“All the tests show she’s not been passing it on. We are testing every two days and we will do so for the next month.”
Since the sixteenth century, the Royal Family has been closely involved with thoroughbred horse breeding since the Royal Stud was founded at Hampton Court.
Her Majesty’s deep enthusiasm for racing and breeding has a direct effect on how successful the Royal Studs have been over the past 50 years.
As patron of the Jockey Club, The Queen visited the National Stud last year. She has around 25 horses in training every season and two stallions, Motivator, and Royal Applause, at Sandringham.
The National Stud’s website issued a statement reading: “We regret to report that a case of Neurological Herpes Virus infection has been identified in a maiden filly in the Health Isolation Unit at the National Stud.
“We are therefore observing the requirements of the Codes of Practice and the main stud has now been closed on a precautionary basis.
“It is hoped that breeding activity can be resumed at the start of the covering season. We look forward to commencing our tours in due course.”
President Mark Bowen of the British Equine Veterinary Association spoke of the outbreak: “The herpes virus is a relatively common virus in race horses.
“But when it affects breeding horses it can lead to abortion in large numbers so it can lead to large financial losses in the racing industry.
“It’s a particular strain of the herpes virus that goes on to lead to abortions. It’s spread largely by direct contact through horse to horse so it’s something that can be relatively controlled.
“There is also a form which can affect the nervous system. When that happens the horses are unable to stand and it can be fatal but we don’t tend to see this strain in the UK.”
The Telegraph reached out to a spokeswoman for the Queen, but she declined to comment.