Monday 5th October 2009

HBLB awards £1.2 million for veterinary research to improve horse health and welfare

The Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB), has awarded 6 grants, worth over £1.2m, for veterinary research projects starting from October 2009. The research disciplines include infectious diseases, vaccine design, musculoskeletal injuries and environmental safety factors.

The research projects will be undertaken at 5 different institutions; Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Liverpool, Moredun Research Institute and Animal Health Trust.

Professor Willie Donachie, chair of the HBLB’s Veterinary Advisory Committee, which evaluated 33 funding applications, commented:

‘It was an extremely competitive round of bids and we expect that the winning projects will make an important and practical contribution to the health and welfare of the Thoroughbred.’

Questions that these HBLB-funded research projects will address over the next three years include:

• What are the most important risk factors for injuries in jump racing, what factors cause them to commonly occur, is there an affect of seasonality and what are the differences between racecourses? This project will use existing data held by the British Horseracing Authority.

• What are the causes of equine tendon injury? Using a new, multi-disciplinary collaborative partnership, this project will provide data to inform vets on treatment and prevention of one of the most important causes of failure to race.

• How viable is the mandatory passport data existing on the National Equine Database (NED) as a resource to accurately plot the distribution of equines in the UK? How might potential transmission of African Horse Sickness vary geographically and seasonally? This project will model various scenarios.

• To what extent is there drug resistance to de-wormers? How will this affect future management strategies to protect horses from poor performance and life threatening parasitic disease? This project builds on research previously funded by HBLB.

• How does the bacterium Rhodococcus equi cause infection, particularly severe respiratory disease of foals? How does it persist in the environment? This project builds on previous research funded by HBLB and is the basis for future vaccine design.

• What is the relationship between attachment of the bacterium Streptococcus zooepidemicus and causes of a range of equine respiratory diseases, particularly in young horses starting training? This project builds on previous research funded by HBLB and is key to future vaccine design.

Notes for editors:

One of the HBLB’s statutory functions is to apply horserace betting levy income for purposes conducive to the advancement or encouragement of veterinary science or veterinary education.

Since 1962 the HBLB has funded some £45 million into equine veterinary science and education with aim of improving the health and welfare of the racing and breeding Thoroughbred horse. This investment has led to significant advances in the understanding, prevention, treatment and management of a wide variety of diseases, injuries and issues affecting the Thoroughbred.