THE British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has confirmed that the horses taken ill at a Sedgefield yard have tested negative for equine flu.

The three horses, at Rebecca Menzies' yard,were tested for the potentially fatal condition which led to the shut down of the British racing industry on Thursday.

One horse – which tested negative – had previously been identified as suspicious and high risk after testing at a different laboratory.

The BHA says the horses will remain under close surveillance, analysis of tests from the yard is ongoing and testing of the suspicious horses will be repeated.

Wider analysis is continuing with thousands more swabs expected to be received and tested over the coming days.

The Northern Echo:

Rebecca Menzies said: “The Animal Health Trust have today informed the BHA that the three horses which I had in isolation here at Howe Hills have returned a negative test result for Equine Flu.

"Whilst the team here are all delighted we are further heartened to see that the prompt actions of the team and the following of our own meticulous, professional and effective procedures which we deliver on a daily basis with all our horses and practices, together with our team of vets and advisors, has demonstrated the willingness of us all to support and be guided by our colleagues at the BHA and their dedicated team members.

The Northern Echo:

"My grateful thanks on behalf of ourselves and all racing fans to the huge amount of work the BHA and their teams have exercised in the last few days and undoubtedly the actions that have been taken will ensure we are back racing as soon as possible.

"On behalf of myself and the team here at Howe Hills we would like to express our best wishes to those more seriously affected.”

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

Symptoms include high fever, coughing and nasal discharge and in the worst cases can lead to further complications such as pneumonia which can be fatal.

Infected horses need to be incubated for days, but full recovery can take weeks or even months.

On Thursday all races in Britain were cancelled after the BHA confirmed three horses had tested postive for the disease.

The affected animals came from trainer Donald McCain's Cheshire stables.

All races will be cancelled until Wednesday, February, 13 after which the situation will be reassessed.

The BHA’s Director of Equine Health and Welfare, David Sykes, said: “We are very grateful to all those trainers whose horses may have come into contact with those from the infected yard for working so rapidly with us and the Animal Health Trust to test their horses.

“There are many more tests to analyse and the nature of the incubation period means that a negative test now does not mean that horse has never had this flu virus.

"So these yards continue to remain locked down and their horses kept under observation.

“Though hundreds of tests have been completed already, there are many hundreds more to be analysed over the weekend before we will have a fuller picture.

"The nature of disease control means that if a positive did emerge elsewhere, that could lead to more yards being locked down.

“I would advise against anyone drawing any conclusions or making any predictions based on this set of results.

"Our focus remains on containing the virus through the strict adherence to   biosecurity measures we are seeing across the industry.”

The Northern Echo:

Rebecca Menzies became Britan's youngest trainer when aged 24 in 2013 she took over the lease of Gold Cup-winning trainer Peter Beaumont’s yard at Brandsby, near Easingwold in North Yorkshire.

She later moved to the Howe Hill Stables in Morden, a former base of John Wade.