Hopes fading for Japan raid on Internationals

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2007, 12:00am

The Jockey Club may have to run this year's Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races without Japanese horses due to equine influenza, but officials remain optimistic about runners from Australia.

Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation officials met Jockey Club vet department heads Brian Stewart, Keith Watkins and Kenneth Lam yesterday to establish a stand on visitors from equine influenza (EI) infected zones.

They failed to define a position in what executive director of racing Bill Nader described as 'a fluid situation', but he hopes Melbourne-based sprint champion Miss Andretti will be here in December.

'The government people were very co-operative, they understand that we want to put on the best show possible without putting our own horse population at risk,' Nader said.

'Because the state of Victoria has remained EI-free and continued to race, we are hopeful we will be able to invite Australian horses from there.

'It's a fluid situation and we'll know more in a couple of weeks, but we will be giving an answer as soon as we can - the people with these horses have been on a roller-coaster ride and deserve to know where they stand,' Nader said.

Japan, however, is looking a more difficult task, despite the mid-year outbreak there - which led to the Australian crisis through horse imports - being past. 'It's a government to government, two-way thing, and that is causing a few difficulties, which leads me to being less optimistic about having the Japanese here,' Nader said.

Losing Japanese runners would be a blow as they have always played a major role on international day.