Brisbane Winter Carnival plans for a number of Victorian horses have been thrown into disarray with a decision by Queensland Health ordering a 14-day quarantine stay for horse handlers aboard a Cathay Pacific cargo flight.
Star three-year-old Ayrton will be floated to Queensland to take his place in the Fred Best Classic at Doomben.
The Mick Price & Michael Kent Jr.-trained galloper was due to fly to Queensland on Tuesday night in preparation for the race on Saturday week, but Queensland Health notified those on board the Cathay Pacific cargo flight they would need to quarantine in Brisbane for 14 days after arrival.
Ayrton is now expected to travel to Warwick Farm in Sydney by road on Wednesday night before making the remainder of the trip to Brisbane on Thursday night, arriving at Eagle Farm on Friday morning.
Chris Calthorpe, who runs Air Horse Transport, said seven Victorian horses, including Queensland Derby favourite Explosive Jack and stablemates Let’s Karaka Deel and Persan, had been loaded when he received a call from Queensland Health.
He said for the past four weeks he had been using Cathay Pacific to fly horses into Toowoomba for the Brisbane Winter Carnival.
“Now they (Queensland Health) have an issue with the plane originating in Hong Kong and there maybe the chance of cross-contamination between crew and us grooms,” Calthorpe told RSN.
“What we tried to explain was we are under strict conditions with Cathay that we all get a COVID test within 48 hours of travel.
“Cathay run a very tight ship with their crew because they don’t want to be grounded anywhere around the world.
“I said to the guy we had been up there the last four Tuesday’s, so why have we now hit this hurdle and I didn’t get much sense out of them.
“Hopefully we can get some resolution as we have 15 or 16 horses booked to fly next Tuesday.”