Update: Stallions may be released to purple zone - Purple zone approval expected within 48 hours

Update: 10.30am Wednesday September 19th - There are reports that stallions may be allowed to leave Eastern Creek quarantine facility in west Syndey to serve in the Hunter Valley 'purple zone' by the end of the week.

Further informaiton will be published as soon as it become available from authorities. The announcement on the establishment of the purple zone is expected on Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier report: The establishment of the 'purple zone' in the breeding area of the Hunter Valley, NSW, to allow movement of horses within the zone is expected to be approved within 48 hours.

The breeding industry sought the approval of NSW DPI and government officials handing the equine influenza (EI) crisis to have the zone established to allow mares and foals to travel to studs to be served, and the breeding season to commence for all those mares currently locked-down on agistment farms in the region.

At present all horse movement is forbidden in NSW.

Mares currently outside the zone will allowed to enter, but they must then stay in the zone until it is cleared of EI, which could be up to three months away.

"It is a significant breakthrough," Thoroughbred Breeders Australia President John Messara told racenet.com.au.

"There are still a lot of technical issues and conditions to be worked through but it's a great result for the breeding industry.

"The zone and perimeter details are expected to be known midweek.

"Obviously we are thrilled with the decision and we are grateful to [NSW Primary Industries Minister] Ian Macdonald for his support."

The zone, expected to extend in area from Cessnock to Murrurundi in the Hunter Valley and possibly south to the Hawkesbury region, will take in Australia's major thoroughbred farms such as Coolmore, Arrowfield, Darley and Widden studs.

However, Messara said he was unaware if stallions locked down in the Eastern Creek quarantine facility would be allowed to move into the purple zone.

"Eastern Creek is another story because it comes under Federal jurisdiction," he said.

"If the stallions can be released in 30 days I would hope that would be the case [that they can be moved] but that hasn't been decided yet."

It is expected four different categories of zones will be declared.

Horses located in an area mapped as a green zone – one that has been identified free of EI - will be allowed to move on an unrestricted basis using a travelling stock permit.

Other zones will be classified as amber and red, depending on a NSW DPI risk assessment.

Horses can only be moved to a higher risk category zone. Once they enter a high risk zone they won't be able to return to a lower zone until a standstill order has been lifted.

Meanwhile, a Sydney media report says that Coolmore Stud has sent three of their stallions who were at their Hunter Valley stud, back to the USA.

The report said that Tale Of The Cat, Johannesburg and Lion Heart has been sent back to the USA as they were free of EI and that the Coolmore property had not, at that stage, received an EI outbreak.

The sires were released from the Federal quarantine centre Eastern Creek facility before the outbreak of EI on stallions from Japan.

- Rob Burnet, Thoroughbred News


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