• 20 February 2014

Over £2 million allocated for veterinary research for 2014

After a serious funding cut in 2009, which dramatically reduced the income of the Horserace Betting Levy Board, the Chairman of its Veterinary Advisory Committee, Professor Willie Donachie, is delighted that the budget for veterinary scientific research has been substantially increased for this year.

Thanks to an additional £240,000 awarded by the Racing Foundation, the Thoroughbred Breeders' Fund, and the European Breeders' Fund, the £1.8 million allocated by the Levy Board has been supplemented to take the total available over the £2 million mark. The Levy Board's contribution itself is up by 12.5% on last year's figures. The total investment fund will be managed on behalf of the benefactors by the HBLB, and will enable a coordinated approach to equine veterinary research, which is much appreciated by the VAC and shows the Industry's confidence in its assessment and management protocols.

Professor Donachie said, "This is a very welcome step forward, and we are especially pleased with the Levy Board's increase to funding in veterinary science - it will invigorate the programme, and racing can look forward to a range of high quality, innovative, and relevant outcomes"

The TBA has provided financial support to the VAC for several years, and is looking forward to working with new funding partners to provide further benefits to equine health within the racing and breeding industries.

TBA's Chief Executive Louise Kemble, commented, "This year we expect the interim results of a three-year project looking at early pregnancy loss, and are particularly pleased to support a further one-year project into Lawsonia infection in foals and youngstock, both of which promise to provide practical benefits to our members"

The Racing Foundation is equally happy to be collaborating with the Levy Board, and drawing on their considerable expertise. 

Chris Mills, Executive Officer of the Foundation, added, "The Racing Foundation recognises the importance of providing the very best veterinary care for Thoroughbred racehorses. We are pleased to be able to co-fund four exciting projects which have the potential to deliver very practical benefits to the Industry within the next few years."

Philip Freedman, Chairman of the British European Breeders' Fund, also welcomed the future progress of these projects. "The EBF is committed to assisting in the funding of veterinary research, and these studies will be of long-term benefit to breeders, both in Britain and further afield."

To reassure the funding bodies, and ensure that the proposed projects were scientifically robust and would benefit both racing, and breeding Thoroughbreds, all grant applications were assessed by the VAC before being submitted to the Foundation, the EBF, and the TBA.

The Racing Foundation will be part-funding four of the seven new research projects starting in 2014, among which is the investigation of potential vaccines against African Horse Sickness, Grass Sickness and the Rhodococcus equi infection in foals. The fight against existing and emerging diseases remains paramount.

The Foundation will also support a project looking at the detection of musculoskeletal injuries, and whether on-going gait analysis could assist in earlier identification of problems. This will also encompass the incidence of long bone fractures, their prevention and repair, what effect genetics and environmental factors have on racecourse injuries, and identifying new stem cell sources.

Short-term programmes of 12 months' duration or less, and focusing on specific issues of direct and immediate application to the Thoroughbred's health and well-being, are covered by a new resource for 2014 - the Small Projects Grants Fund. Within this, the EBF is supporting two projects, one researching the virulence of the Rhodococcus equi organism, and the other examining the effect light and temperature have on ovulation. Investigation into the intestinal disease, Lawsonia Intracellularis, a serious issue for foals, is being funded by the TBA.

Differing aspects of infectious disease, musculoskeletal sciences and orthopaedics are provided for by other projects.

To encourage top quality veterinary surgeons into the equine field, the Levy Board has made the decision to offer funding for four educational awards, in the form of three research scholarships and a four-year clinical scholarship in Equine Sports Medicine, the focal point of which is respiratory disorders.

The jointly funded (TBA and Racehorse Owners' Association) Equine Influenza Programme and Infectious Disease Service will continue, with reviews of both being scheduled for this year.


For further information:

w. www.racehorsehealth.hblb.org.uk

t. +44 (0)20 7333 0043

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