09/18/2007 11:00PM

Australia eases ban on shipping

EmailIn a bid to salvage Australia's Thoroughbred breeding season, the government of New South Wales will allow restricted movement of mares in areas affected by the nation's first-ever outbreak of highly contagious equine influenza.

That news came amid reports that representatives from Darley and Coolmore's Australian operations had met with government officials to ask for the release of shuttle stallions that the disease has kept in quarantine since late August.

The NSW government formally approved a plan Wednesday to divide the state into four zones, each with movement restrictions based on the occurrence and risk of infection. The Hunter Valley Thoroughbred breeding center's "purple zone" would allow movement with a permit, but mares entering the zone will not be allowed out again without special authorization. The zones will be in effect starting Friday.