Horses Returning to Sydney Show despite Influenza Outbreak

Despite the outbreak of equine influenza, Australia's best horses will be able to compete at the 2008 Sydney Royal Easter Show, government and agriculture officials recently announced.

New South Wales Minister for Primary Industries Ian Macdonald said the Department of Primary Industries has worked around the clock with the Royal Agricultural Society to ensure the competitions can go ahead.

"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," McDonald said. "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."

As many as 300 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, held over five days.

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.

"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," McDonald said.

Agricultural Society President Rob Vickery said he's excited to see that the Society is now in a position to offer its exhibitors the opportunity to compete at the Easter Show.

"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," Vickery said.

Horses must follow strict biosecurity arrangements at the time of the show in March in order to be eligible to compete. These will be published at  

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