The suspension of UK horse racing continues into a second day after Donald McCain confirmed that he has had three horses at his yard confirmed as having equine influenza, however as yet he has no idea just how they contracted the virus. McCain had already sent out runners at Ayr and Ludlow on Wednesday prior to vets informing the trainer of the news. He then contacted the British Horseracing Authority immediately upon receiving this news.
As yet it remains unclear as to where the infection originated and McCain was at pains to point out that he would never run a horse in the knowledge that it might be infected with the virus.
McCain said: “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 bio-security 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.”
The director of equine health and welfare at the British Horseracing Authority – David Sykes – added: “We would like to thank Donald McCain for his co-operation 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.”
McCain has enjoyed Grand National success in the past with Ballabriggs winning the race in 2012.