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Sydney Royal does u-turn on horse events

December 25, 2007

Horses will be able to compete at the 2008 Sydney Royal Easter Show, despite the outbreak of equine influenza. Show horses will be allowed to compete, despite an earlier announcement by the Royal Agricultural Society cancelling the horse events, with the risk of spreading the virus and logistics cited as the reason.

The announcement was made on Monday by Minister for Primary Industries Ian Macdonald and the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) President Rob Vickery.

Ian Macdonald said the Department of Primary Industries has worked around the clock with the (RAS) to ensure the competitions can go ahead.

"I am pleased we have been able to reach a practical solution to the restrictions associated with equine influenza and these important competitions can proceed," Mr Macdonald said.

"We all want to ensure the Sydney Royal retains its 180 year tradition as well as its outstanding reputation and status as one of the world's premier horse events.

"This event signals the road to recovery for leisure horses in NSW, since the outbreak of EI in August.

Minister Macdonald also announced the inaugural Royal Sydney Horse Classic will be held at the show over five days.

"Up to 300 of the country's finest horses will be invited to compete for $100,000 in prize money in the inaugural Sydney Royal Horse Classic, which will consist of a series of elite riding and hack competition events," he said.

"The Sydney Royal Horse Classic will be a great way to demonstrate our horse industry is on the road to recovery and up and running again and it's important for all of the State to see these magnificent horses in action.

"We will continue to work closely with the RAS to enable entry to the event for as many competitors as possible, whilst continuing our campaign to eradicate EI from NSW."

RAS President Rob Vickery said he is excited the Society is now in a position to offer its exhibitors the opportunity to compete at the Easter Show.

"We are extremely appreciative of the Minister's personal commitment to finding a working solution to the problems associated with EI and to his Department, who recognised the importance and popularity of horses at the show," Mr Vickery said.

"I also want to thank the dedicated horse exhibitors who have supported our show for many years and for their patience in waiting for this announcement.

"The Sydney Royal Horse Classic will be a tribute to all these people and to the wonderful Australian heritage of showing horses at the Sydney Royal."

The Easter Show will also have an additional 500 horses competing in world class Olympic qualifying showjumping, interstate and international polo and polocross matches, campdraft and stock horse competitions.

To be eligible to compete, horses must follow strict biosecurity arrangements at the time of the show in March.



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