Danedream, the winner of last year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, may be denied the chance to defend her crown in Sunday’s renewal of the famous race after an outbreak of equine infectious anaemia at Cologne racecourse left the filly confined to her stables at the track.
Her trainer, Peter Schiergen, could not be contacted on Monday evening, but reports appeared to confirm that the track had been closed and a three-month ban placed on the movement of all horses stabled within a one-kilometre range, measures which would force Danedream to miss the Arc.
A German racing website quoted the management committee of the racecourse as “regretting greatly that Danedream cannot defend her title”.
Better known as swamp fever, EIA is a viral infection related to the human HIV virus, and for which there is no cure or vaccine. It is frequently fatal to horses. The last known outbreak in Britain came in 2010, when four horses with the virus were found to have been imported from Romania, but it is regularly found in other parts of the world.
An indication that Danedream’s challenge might have been thrown off course came when the mare’s price began to drift on the Betfair betting exchange at about 5pm on Monday. As news began to emerge of the situation, Betfair and bookmakers suspended their betting.
Patrick Barbe, the bloodstock agent who manages the racing interests of Danedream’s part-owner Teruya Yoshida, maintained that a way might be found to allow her to compete at Longchamp. “It is concerning and serious but we hope that she can still travel,” he told the Racing Post and he also noted that “the only horse who has been infected is on the other side of the racecourse to Danedream”.
However, he told the Press Association that he was “very pessimistic” about her chance of being allowed to leave Cologne.
The racecourse’s general manager, Benedikt Fassbender, appeared to offer little reason for optimism. “It’s a nightmare,” he said. “We are the biggest training centre in Germany and one horse has tested positive for equine infectious anaemia. For three months, we are now in quarantine. No horses can come in to the track and no horses can come out.
“It is a disaster, especially as Danedream cannot take part in the Arc at the orders of the special vets. Danedream has not been infected by the disease, but every horse will be tested for the infection in the next few days.”
In her expected absence, Ladbrokes installed Orfevre as the 3-1 clear favourite, with Nathaniel next in the betting at 4-1, the same price at which Danedream had been trading. Next in the betting at 5-1 comes Camelot, whose possible participation is expected to be decided within the next 48 hours. His regular rider, Joseph O’Brien, has already been ruled out of the ride should the colt be given the go-ahead and the most obvious substitute, Ryan Moore, is also unlikely to come in for the mount, as the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Sea Moon has now been confirmed a likely starter.
“When we’ve made a final decision, we’ll let everyone know, but it’s on the agenda and at the moment we’re heading that way and hopefully we’ll be there,” said Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to Sea Moon’s owner, Khalid Abdulla.
Moore has been out of action since August after fracturing a wrist in a fall at Warwick, but he has been riding work for Stoute for more than a week and is expected to make his comeback by the end of this week.
He returned from a similar absence to partner Workforce in last year’s Arc, having had just two rides at Ascot 48 hours before the contest to bring him back to peak fitness after shoulder and hand injuries sustained at Goodwood more than two months earlier.