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  1. ITV Report

Cheshire stables at the centre of equine flu scare that's shut down all horse racing in the UK

Donald McCain. Photo: Press Association.

Grand National winning horse trainer Donald McCain has confirmed the three horses to test positive for Equine Influenza are from his Cheshire yard.

The outbreak has forced the cancellation of all British racing on Thursday, after three horses tested positive for equine influenza, despite having been vaccinated against it.

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) confirmed the affected stable had runners at Ayr and Ludlow on Wednesday, where they were in close proximity to dozens of other horses from many racing stables.

It said the cancellation was 'a precaution' and humans are not at risk from the virus.

In a statement, McCain said his Bankhouse stables had had three confirmed cases.

McCain said his Bankhouse stables had had three confirmed cases. Credit: Press Association

“I have been aware of the recent news about Equine Influenza outbreaks in France and Ireland, and over the last couple of days, I have been concerned about the health status of a small number of horses in the yard.

"Their welfare is at the front of our minds, so at my request, our veterinary surgeon has examined them regularly and we have followed his advice on testing and treatment. It was by following this protocol that the positive results for equine flu came to light yesterday evening.

"The BHA were contacted immediately and we are liaising closely with them about biosecurity and management of all the horses at Bankhouse.

“Bankhouse follows all the available advice on disease control and all our horses are fully inoculated.

"We are scrupulous about observing the health status of horses in our care and taking the necessary steps to treat any condition that may affect them. It follows we would never race any horses that we could have known were infected.

"Over the last two months, all potential runners have been scoped and their blood checked within 36 hours of their races to ensure that only healthy horses compete for the yard.

"When new horses arrive at our yard we, as much as possible, try to keep them separate but at this stage cannot know if the infection came from recent arrivals or from horses returning from racing.

"We have three confirmed cases and this morning have taken blood and swabs from all the others for testing.”

– Donald McCain

This is a standard contingency in the event of an infectious disease affecting our horses.

"It was essential that racing be stood down today and controls on movements of horses be put in place in order to attempt to control the spread of the disease, and the decision was taken swiftly last night that this course of action should be taken, once the extent of the issue was known.

– British Horseracing Authority