RACEHORSE trainers in West Wiltshire have escaped the equine flu outbreak that has affected a stables in the north west of England.

Three more horses from trainer Donald McCain's yard in Cheshire have tested positive for equine flu, including Raise A Spark, who ran at Ayr on Wednesday, the British Horseracing Authority announced.

This means in total there are six positive tests for the virus, after three horses were found with the flu on Thursday, despite having been vaccinated against it.

The outbreak of equine flu has also forced the cancellation of all British racing until Wednesday at the earliest.

The 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.

The action to cancel yesterday's races was taken with unanimous support of the BHA's industry veterinary committee.

In Conkwell, trainer Neil Mulholland has called in Garston Vets to swab and test all of his 100 horses after sending two runners, Mrs Burbage and With Pride, to Wolverhampton on Tuesday.

Mr Mulholland said: “The horses are all fine. We are taking all precautions and having all the horses tested.

“The vets have been in today and have taken swabs from all of the horses but none of them have temperatures or snotty noses. We’re hoping to get the results of the swab tests back by Monday.”

Simon Earle Racing and Milton Harris Racing at Sutton Veny, near Warminster, say their horses are fine and the yards are not on a lock down.

Mr Earle, who has nine horses in training, said: “We’re fine. It’s not a problem. We’re not under lock down like other yards.

“We’ve not had any runners at meetings where there have been runners from infected yards.

“The BHA have been brilliant. They have moved swiftly and have been very precise about what needs to be done. They could not have done any more.”

Milton Harris, who has 17 horses in training, said their horses were also fine. He is hoping to send two of his fancied horses, Riviera Argent and Away for Slate, to Plumpton races if horse racing resumes on Wednesday.

Equine influenza is a highly infectious disease of horses, mules and donkeys.

Symptoms in non-immune animals include high fever, coughing and nasal discharge.

It has an incubation period of between one and five days and its symptoms can persist for several weeks.

In severe cases, a horse might be unable to exercise for two or three months and a severe outbreak would have the potential to close down Britain’s racing industry for many weeks.

The current shutdown echoes the similarities from the foot-and-mouth crises of 1967 and 2001.

It is not yet known how long the shutdown of horse racing may have to last - but on each occasion, the racing calendar was affected for two months - and in 2001, the Cheltenham Festival was abandoned.

Thursday's cancellations come less than five weeks before the start of this year's Cheltenham Festival - the annual highlight of the National Hunt calendar.

Humans do not get infected with equine influenza.

However, people can physically carry the virus on their skin, hair, clothing and shoes, and can therefore transfer the virus to other horses.

The BHA said there has been "appropriate quarantine and biosecurity measures" put in place to avoid further spread of equine flu.

It added: "The BHA is presently communicating with yards potentially exposed to ensure appropriate quarantine and biosecurity measures are put in place and horse movements restricted to avoid possible further spread of the disease.

"The full extent of potential exposure is unknown, and we are working quickly to understand as much as we can to assist our decision-making."

"We are aware that people want to know the situation as regards racing tomorrow and this weekend, and we will seek to provide more clarity as soon as we are able.

“It is likely that any definitive decisions on whether racing can take place tomorrow will be taken later this evening."