In Britain in 2016 there were 10,035 races with 89,616 runners at 60 racecourses. Combined with an ever increasing number of horses travelling internationally to race, there is enormous potential for large scale transmission of infectious diseases in the racehorse population. Outbreaks of highly infectious diseases such as equine herpes virus and equine influenza can have serious consequences for the welfare of horses, as well as disrupting racing and training activities on a local and national scale.
Protecting the health of the racehorse population is essential to safeguarding both the welfare of the horses and the day-to-day running of the racing industry. For this reason, HBLB funds an equine influenza monitoring and research programme and, together with the Racehorse Owners' Association and Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association, an infectious disease surveillance service, based at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket.
In 2017, the HBLB will apply some £366,000 (2016: £366,000) to the equine influenza programme and the AHT's infectious disease services to help protect racehorses and, ultimately, the racing industry.