The equine flu epidemic continued to spread through Newmarket last week, and has now reached as far afield as Ireland.

There is concern that the virus will frighten off two of France’s leading contenders for the Sagitta 1000 Guineas on Sunday week – Six Perfections and Intercontinental.

The confirmed number of Newmarket stables affected increased from 10 to 18, totalling more than 100 horses. Ed Dunlop reported that 30 of his string have tested positive for the flu strain, but he does not expect the virus to linger for long.

The Jockey Club’s chief veterinary officer, Peter Webbon, insisted that the flu was not too debilitating and that trainers should not be frightened off.

Across the Irish Sea, three confirmed cases have been found, according to the Irish Equine Centre. One is on a Thoroughbred stud and the other two are in non-Thoroughbred yards.

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