MARLBOROUGH-based national hunt trainer Emma Lavelle has called for patience and calm after an outbreak of equine influenza was confirmed last night.

Three vaccinated horses – reportedly part of Donald McCain’s yard in Cheshire - tested positive for the disease, which is known to spread violently to horses that aren’t protected against it.

McCain sent two runners out yesterday – one at Ayr and one at Ludlow.

100/1 chance Dry Lightning was pulled up at Ludlow while 4/1 hope Raise A Spark finished last in a four-runner novice handicap chase.

The respiratory disease itself can cause horses to have a high temperature, a cough and a clear nasal discharge.

Therefore, a decision was made by the British Horse Racing Authority (BHA) to abandon all British racing scheduled for this afternoon – with Saturday’s meeting at Wolverhampton also called off.

Lavelle, trainer of current 9/4 Stayers’ Hurdle favourite Paisley Park, had no runners at either Ludlow or Ayr and is therefore confident her yard will remain protected from the disease.

But that hasn’t stopped her from installing extra measures to ensure her yard remains healthy in the build up to next month’s prestigious Cheltenham Festival – which has now been plunged into doubt.

Lavelle said: “It’s very concerning. We need to first of all work out where it has come from and then isolate it.

“Doing what is right for the equine population across the board is what should be done afterwards.

“We don’t want this to spread to other horses.

“On a practical level, everyone will increase their bio-security to try and reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

“I gather that it is a virus that doesn’t like disinfectant – so long as you are doing the right thing it should help alleviate the spread.

“What we will do is take horses temperatures – morning and night – and ensure if a horse does have a temperature, any nasal discharge or coughs then we will isolate and make sure things are tested.”

It’s been a breakthrough year for Lavelle’s team with 24 winners from 192 runners – including four victories for star horse Paisley Park.

The seven-year-old gelding won two handicap hurdles in the earlier parts of the season before landing the Group One Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December.

An impressive 12-length victory in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on Trials Day followed, a performance that has made Andrew Gemmell’s horse favourite for the main race on day three of the festival.

Despite this, animal welfare is being put first by Lavelle – who will be taking advice from vetinary experts in the coming days.

She said: “In the short-term, we don’t want to run the risk of it spreading without doing anything about it.

“The key thing – for all of us as national hunt trainers – is that there is no risk to Cheltenham or Aintree. That’s our centre-piece, and we don’t want to run the risk of letting the issue linger.

“We need to act sensibly and take advice from all the various experts. The worry is that the issue has been found in vaccinated horses.

“In Australia, those horses were not vaccinated. The BHA are talking to the various vaccine companies and the Animal Health Trust and will tell us what we should be doing.”