By Andrew Atkinson Leader racing correspondent

CHELTENHAM’S racing festival in March got a boost with the news that the Cheshire based stable of Donald McCain – where the equine flu outbreak virus was pinpointed earlier this month – have been given the all clear to return to the turf.

McCain was hit with six horses that tested positive for the virus, which lead to shock waves going through the industry in England, with racing in the UK cancelled for six days from February 7.

“I cannot thank my staff enough for all the hard work,” said a relieved McCain.

The son of the late Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain, famous for his training exploits in winning Aintree Grand Nationals with Red Rum, said: “My owners gave their unwavering support. That means an awful lot.”

McCain, who has runners entered at Musselburgh on Wednesday, was the initial stable hit, that ended with 174 racing stables put in lockdown.

The equine flu virus lead to cause for concern in racing – with fears it would impact on the Cheltenham Festival, which takes place during March 12-15.

After the virus at McCain’s yard a second outbreak, involving four vaccinated horses, came to light at trainer Simon Crisford’s Newmarket yard on February 11.

Leader newspaper racing will be reporting updates, leading up to the Cheltenham Festival; along with the weekend racing news and tips every Saturday.