Racehorse trainer confirms three equine flu cases at his yard

A trainer whose yard has been involved in the recent outbreaks of equine flu said he contacted the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) as soon as the diagnosis was confirmed.

The National Trainers Federation has issued a statement on behalf of Donald McCain to ‘provide background information” on the cases of flu at his Bankhouse yard in Cheshire.

It comes after the BHA shut down racing on all British racecourses today (7 February) in an attempt to restrict the spread of the virus.

The BHA was told yesterday by the Animal Health Trust (AHT) of three confirmed cases of flu in vaccinated horses in an active racing yard. Horses from this yard had raced yesterday at Ayr and Ludlow, “potentially exposing a significant number of horses from yards across the country and in Ireland” to the virus.

“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,” Mr McCain’s statement said.

“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.”

The statement added that the yard follows all available advice on biosecurity and disease control, and that all horses are vaccinated.

“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 said. “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.”

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Mr McCain said Bankhouse has three confirmed cases and that swabs and samples have been taken from all other horses at the yard today for testing.

BHA director of equine health and welfare David Sykes said: “We would like to thank Donald McCain for his cooperation in this matter, and for the responsible manner in which he has dealt with this issue, under the guidance of his veterinary surgeon. He has acted professionally with the interests of the racing industry and the health of his horses as his priority.”

Mr McCain will provide updates “in due course”.

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