Monday 21st May 2007

New Research To Improve Racehorse Welfare

Investigation of joint disease, strangles and sarcoids, together with continuing support for infectious disease surveillance, are among key initiatives to be funded from the Levy Board's £1.78m veterinary budget for 2007/08. The commitment, made by the Board on the advice of its Veterinary Advisory Committee (VAC), is designed to improve the health and welfare of the racing and breeding Thoroughbred.

Over £1 million will support new research projects, covering a wide range of issues of interest to the racing and breeding industries. One project, to be jointly funded by the Levy Board and the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association, will test the efficacy of a potential new vaccine for strangles. Other projects will work towards improved understanding of the factors leading to palmar osteochondral disease, improved diagnosis of septic shock in foals, a route to the effective treatment of sarcoids and clarification as to why some horses become long-term carriers of strangles after infection.

£352,000 will support post-graduate equine veterinary education, through two new Clinical Scholarships to train veterinary surgeons in gastroenterology and genetics, and two new Clinical Scholarships for training in equine internal medicine and surgery.

Support for infectious disease surveillance at the Animal Health Trust will continue, along with funding for the equine influenza programme, which supports the HRA's mandatory vaccination policy for racehorses. The VAC is working with racing and breeding industry organisations, which also support the Trust's work on equine infectious diseases, to improve the co-ordination of funding arrangements.

In every breeding season, avoiding venereal disease is of paramount concern. In 2007, the Levy Board will again publish the Codes of Practice, which are updated annually to ensure that the most up-to-date advice on disease prevention and control is available to Thoroughbred breeders.

Levy Board Chairman, Robert Hughes, said, "The Board's commitment to improving the welfare of racing and breeding Thoroughbreds is again demonstrated through its continued support for veterinary research, education and disease surveillance. Its contribution is designed to have a significant impact on the management of Thoroughbred health problems".