Raise A Spark was named on Friday as among three further horses from the yard of Donald McCain to have tested positive for equine flu – and, in a further development, trainer Rebecca Menzies has raised concerns over three of her horses.
Durham-based Menzies – who has been enjoying a breakthrough season – said on Friday night she had sent swabs for testing to the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket.
Raise A Spark finished last of four in an extended two-mile handicap chase at Ayr on Wednesday, a race won by Gordon Elliott’s Veinard.
Three positives were already known from the McCain stable. Of the additional three cases, Raise A Spark is the only one to have run this week.
In a statement on Friday afternoon, the British Horseracing Authority said: “The test on this runner relates to a sample taken the following day, and the horse showed no clinical symptoms on raceday.
“It was in anticipation of this risk that the decision was taken by the BHA to restrict movement of horses on a precautionary basis at the yards of 120 other trainers who competed at these fixtures, and to suspend racing until Wednesday at the earliest.
“This action was taken to mitigate the impact of any of the runners which competed at these fixtures being found to be infected by the virus.
“Testing of horses at the 120 yards which have been put on hold is continuing on an ongoing basis. No further positive samples have been reported as yet.”
Menzies – who had two runners at Newcastle on Tuesday and a winner with her one runner at Wolverhampton on Wednesday – said in a statement: “We have today together with the BHA taken the precaution to submit test swabs for analysis to the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket as a precaution following the sickness of three horses stabled in an isolation yard on our premises.
“At this stage we have not received the results, our horses in training all appear healthy and thriving and of course I fully support the actions of the BHA and I look forward to a swift conclusion for our industry so we can get back to providing enjoyment for so many.”
The earlier BHA statement added that a “separate suspicious case – which has not yet been confirmed as a positive sample – has been identified at another yard”.
It said: “No links have been identified between this yard and the original yard.
“This yard had runners at the fixtures at Newcastle on February 5 and Wolverhampton on February 6, and as such the BHA has taken the further precautionary steps of placing all 54 yards of trainers who also had runners at these fixtures on hold and initiating testing of horses from these yards.”
The BHA said it was working closely with the Animal Health Trust “in order to manage the logistical challenge of providing sufficient swabs and handling the volume of tests being sent through the facility, considering that testing of a total of 174 yards is now taking place”.
It added: “It will not be possible to test every horse from every yard before the end of the weekend, but we will work with trainers to identify any priority or risk horses and ensure that they are tested.
“This will all form part of the picture that is built in order to assist the decisions that will be made on Monday.”