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Polo Community Receives Update on EHV-1 Virus

WELLINGTON, FL (January 2, 2007) – More than 100 people intimately involved with polo gathered at the Players Club Tuesday night to listen to five club managers and a high-ranking official from the Florida Department of Agriculture update them on how the EHV-1 virus outbreak was affecting the polo community.

The event was organized and run by Sunny Hale, one of the top female polo players in the world.

Dr. Michael Short, DVM, Veterinarian Manager – Equine Programs for the Florida Department of Agriculture, spoke first after Hale’s opening statement and went over the statistics of the outbreak, such as how many horses have been affected and how many barns and stables are under quarantine.

He was followed by the polo club managers who announced the starting date for their facility. Phil Heatley of Outback Polo announced that they moved their opening back to Jan. 12. Marla Connor of Gulfstream Polo Club said they will begin league play Friday. Jimmy Newman of International Polo Club Palm Beach announced that the high-goal polo season is going to begin as scheduled on Sunday, Jan. 14 with eight teams. Hale read a note from Joey Casey of the Royal Palm Polo Club in Boca Raton that said they would begin play on Jan. 14, one week later than planned. Randy Aversano of Southampton Polo said they will hold practices. And Robin Dutoit, who runs the youth polo, said she is following the recommendations of Outback Polo and International Polo Club managers.

Several questions were asked, including the best products to use to help disinfect those who come into contact with horses. Both Dr. Short and several veterinarians at the meeting re-iterated to the crowd that the best way to fight the outbreak was to get educated about it, follow proper hygiene protocol such as washing hands and disinfecting the boots, bridles and other equipment that come in contact with any horse.

During the meeting, Dr. Short was asked if he was a polo player would he play on January 14. Dr. Short replied that he would have to think about it. A high-goal polo player was asked after the meeting if he would play and he said he had not made up his mind yet. Basically, it is being left up to the individual clubs and teams to make the decisions if and when to play.

For more information, Dr. Short and Hale each told the crowd to visit http://www.flanimalindustry.com.

In addition to the polo club managers, patrons such as Tim Gannon of Outback, Bob Daniels of Pony Express and Neil Hirsch of Black Watch attended the meeting, as did managers from high-goal teams such as White Birch, Lechuza Caracas, Isla Carroll, Pony Express, Airstream and Orchard Hill, as well as numerous players, including Hector Galindo, Nicolas Roldan, Brandon Phillips, Adrian Wade and Steve Dalton. Peter Rizzo, Executive Director of the United States Polo Association (USPA) and George Dupont, Executive Director of the Polo Museum and Hall of Fame, also attended the meeting.

White Birch and the Broncos, a new team based in England playing at International Polo Club for the first time, are located in the barns at the Palm Beach Sports Complex which are under mandatory quarantine. White Birch, generally regarded as the best organization in the U.S., has lost two horses in the last two weeks. They were not scheduled to play in the first tournament but were expected to participate in the last four tourneys. The Broncos was scheduled to play only in the first two tournaments.



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