Cheshire racing yard confirms it is source of equine flu outbreak

By Sophie Drew
A Cheshire racing yard has confirmed that they are the source of the equine flu outbreak that led to the current racing ban.

Horses at a racing yard in Cheshire, and 7 other stables around the country, have contracted equine flu, leading to a nationwide ban on racing.

The respiratory disease can be very dangerous, and has led to a suspension on all race meetings.

Cheshire horse trainer Donald McCain, son of the renowned Ginger McCain, has confirmed that his stable is the source of the outbreak.

At least three horses, who had been vaccinated against the infection, have become sick.

The stable had runners at Ayr and Ludlow on Wednesday.

All other stables that competed at these courses have been ordered to remain on lockdown.

In a statement to the National Trainers Federation, he said: “We are scrupulous about observing the health of our horses in our care. It follows that we would never race any horses we could have known were infected.”

Racing in the UK has been called off until later notice, and British horses have been banned from racing in Ireland.

Vets are encouraging horse owners to give their horses booster jabs if they have not been vaccinated against equine flu in the past six months.

A number of courses are undergoing deep cleans. It is unknown whether racing will continue over the weekend.

Equine flu is unlikely to be fatal in vaccinated horses, but can be dangerous to foals, pregnant mares or horses who were already sick.

Humans cannot contract the disease, but they can be carriers of it.

Mersey Mash spoke to Cheshire vet James Carrier about what horse owners can do to prevent the spread of the infection:

“Vigilance and vaccination. Vaccination is the best tool we’ve got to prevent the spread of disease,” he said.

“We’ve got seven or eight confirmed separate outbreaks in the UK at the moment, just in the first 6 weeks of this year.

“That’s more than we had in the entirety of last year, and by some margin.”

We spoke to Liberty Nichols, a racing yard groom, about the precautions that stables are taking:

The British Horseracing Authority will make decisions regarding the continuation of racing in due course.

McCain’s yard is located between Cholmondeley and Malpas, in Cheshire.

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(Picture courtesy of Google Maps; Racing picture courtesy of Galopp Riem . For display purposes only)

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