ONE of the country's leading national hunt trainers has vowed to carry on racing despite a foot-and-mouth outbreak next to his County Durham stables.

Howard Johnson said this week he will continue to exercise his horses on roads around his base near Crook, despite pressure from people in the area.

A new case of foot-and-mouth was confirmed at Old White Lea Farm owned by neighbour Bob Marley, on Monday.

Mr Johnson said: "We are just going on as normal and hoping for the best. I am absolutely fastened in at the minute.''

He said he had backing from MAFF officials to continue travelling to race venues as long as he followed strict guidelines to disinfect his vehicles and stay on the main roads while training.

He said: "They have no problem as long as I do the job by the book and they are very happy so far.''

He has continued to race throughout the crisis and had runners at Market Rasen on Saturday.

During his high-profile career Mr Johnson has had winners in the Whitbread Gold Cup at Sandown and Tingle Creek, as well as a third in the national and runner-up last year in the Queen Mother Chase at Cheltenham.

He said: "This has been a disaster for the farmers and seems to be getting worse. There has been a lot of people against racing who want to stop it but I have got to look after my owners as well.''

He also continues to ride out the 40 horses he trains at the moment.

He said: "When this first started we were getting a lot of hassle from the public but we are following the regulations when we exercise the horses and MAFF has said it would rather us use main roads down into Crook as back roads'