In Britain in 2019 there were 10,086 races with 91,409 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. These programmes were based at the Animal Health Trust for many years, but, following the Trust’s closure in July 2020, alternative provision is under development. Potential suppliers of diagnostic services have been invited to submit proposals. For further information, please go to
In 2020, the HBLB will apply some £357,000 (2019: £357,000) to the equine influenza programme and the AHT's infectious disease services to help protect racehorses and, ultimately, the racing industry.