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Fighting racehorse virus was 'battle we had to win' says Victor Dartnall

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 22, 2012

Victor Dartnall, whose stables were hit by a serious disease

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Victor Dartnall has reflected on what he has described as the worst six weeks of his horse training career.

The North Devon trainer was forced to shut down his Barnstaple stables in November after an outbreak of equine herpes in the yard.

Dartnall revealed six horses paid the ultimate price, including Pocket Too, a winner at Chepstow in early November, when the disease struck.

"The past six weeks or so have been the worst of my training career and not something I would ever want to live through again," he said.

"We adopted a policy of openness from the outset.

"I hope from our experiences, people will learn a little about this devastating virus, and, also, take it very seriously.

"That way we can help prevent its spread and further suffering.

"All our horses have been vaccinated against herpes virus for the past ten years, but we have subsequently learned that it just dampens the virus.

"However, if we hadn't been vaccinated, 90% of our yard could have been affected, instead of 25%.

"The most dangerous part of a herpes outbreak is the first few days, when you don't actually realise you have it.

"In all, 25% of our horses were affected in one way or another.

"The mildest had a raised temperature, the most severe loss of hind limb co-ordination to fatal paralysis.

"The remaining 75% of the yard carried on as normal and showed no clinical signs.

"The outbreak has had an immense effect on our business.

"Over the last six weeks we've lost six horses in total, including two very nice youngsters who were showing a lot of promise, and the gutsy Pocket Too.

"But it makes you fight back to get to where you were and we've have some very nice horses to run and some good-looking three-year-olds to bring in and get going.

"I'm very much looking forward to the future and am delighted to say that the horses are all in great heart.

"We're very appreciative of all the support we have had from everyone. It has been brilliant."

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