Monday 20th January 2014

Over £2m for Veterinary Science and Education in 2014

In 2014 the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) will be managing new veterinary scientific research investment on behalf of The Racing Foundation, the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association (TBA) and the European Breeders Fund (EBF). In addition to the funding allocation approved by the Levy Board of £1.8m (an increase of 12.5% over 2013), £220,000 has been made available by the Foundation, and £20,000 by the EBF and TBA.

Professor Willie Donachie, Chairman of the HBLB Veterinary Advisory Committee (VAC), said:

“The new co-ordination of equine veterinary research investment, bringing together a number of funding streams, is a very welcome step forward. This clear demonstration of the Industry’s confidence in the VAC’s assessment and management protocols is much appreciated. The Committee is also especially pleased that the Levy Board’s allocation to veterinary science has again increased. Equine research was hit badly by the serious cut in funding in 2009 when the Board’s income reduced so dramatically.

“Now, however, the programme will be reinvigorated and Racing can look forward to a range of high quality, innovative and relevant outcomes.“

Louise Kemble, Chief Executive of the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association, said:

“The TBA has provided financial support to the valuable work of the Levy Board’s VAC for a number of years. We welcome the involvement of new funding partners who will provide further opportunities to benefit equine health within the Racing and Breeding industries. This year we are looking forward to the interim results of a current 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.“

Chris Mills, Executive Officer of The Racing Foundation, said:

“The Racing Foundation recognises the importance of providing the very best veterinary care for thoroughbred racehorses. By collaborating with the Levy Board, and drawing on their significant expertise in this area, we are pleased to be able to co-fund four exciting projects. All of these have the potential to deliver very practical benefits for the horseracing and thoroughbred breeding industry within the next few years.”

Philip Freedman, Chairman of the British European Breeders Fund, commented:

“The EBF is committed to assisting in the funding of veterinary research. These studies will be of long term benefit to breeders, both in Britain and further afield and we welcome the progress such work will produce.“

All grant applications were assessed by the HBLB’s VAC in accordance with the established procedure before being submitted to the Foundation, the EBF and TBA. The Levy Board’s partner funding bodies could therefore be certain that the proposed projects were scientifically robust and would benefit the racing and breeding Thoroughbred.

Seven new research projects will be started in 2014, four of which are being part-funded by The Racing Foundation. Combatting both historic and emerging diseases remains of paramount importance, and projects being funded jointly by the Levy Board and the Foundation include the investigation of potential vaccines against Rhodococcus equi infection in foals, against African Horse Sickness and also Grass Sickness.

Other projects will look at whether monitoring racehorse gait will aid the early detection of musculoskeletal injury (also being supported by The Racing Foundation), at identifying new stem cell sources, at how long bone fractures occur and thus how they might be repaired or prevented and the environmental and genetic factors in racecourse injury.

Also new in 2014 is the Small Projects Grants Fund reserved for programmes of no longer than a year’s duration focusing on specific issues of direct and immediate practical application to the health and wellbeing of the Thoroughbred. The EBF has chosen to support two projects, one looking at how light and temperature affect ovulation and the other considering why the Rhodococcus equi organism is so virulent. The TBA has chosen to fund an investigation into the intestinal bacterial disease Lawsonia intracellularis, which is a serious issue for foals.

Other projects look at various aspects of infectious disease, musculoskeletal sciences and orthopaedics.

Information on these new projects, together with summaries describing recent and current research on diseases and injuries of the thoroughbred, will shortly be available on the online resource at

In addition, the Levy Board has decided to fund a four-year clinical scholarship in equine sports medicine, concentrating on respiratory disorders; and three research scholarships. These educational awards help to attract top quality veterinary surgeons into the equine zone.

The Board is also continuing the Equine Influenza Programme and the Infectious Disease Service (funded jointly with the TBA and ROA), with reviews of both scheduled for the coming year.

For further information please contact:
Professor Willie Donachie
HBLB Veterinary Advisory Committee
0131 445 6207

Chris Mills
Executive Officer, The Racing Foundation
01202 733565

Notes for editors:

The Horserace Betting Levy Board is a statutory body operating in accordance with the provisions of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963 (as amended). Its purpose is to assess and collect monetary contributions from bookmakers via a levy, which it distributes for the improvement of horseracing and breeds of horses, and for the advancement of veterinary science and education.

In 2013 the Levy Board commemorated its 50th anniversary of funding veterinary science research. The outcomes are published in peer reviewed scientific journals and lay summaries are available at

The Racing Foundation was established in 2012 with funding derived from the UK government’s sale of the Horserace Totalisator Board ("Tote"). The Racing Foundation aims to use these funds to achieve a lasting legacy for the sport of horseracing.

The Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association is the only official body representing thoroughbred breeders in Great Britain. Membership is open to everyone with an interest in breeding thoroughbreds, be it as an active breeder or an interested follower, in the UK, Europe and beyond.

The European Breeders Fund was established in 1983 and is funded predominantly by contributions from stallion owners in member countries. Over €100m has now been allocated to the European racing industry by the EBF.

The HBLB’s agreed strategic research priorities are:

- Improved prevention of current and emerging infectious diseases by the development of more effective vaccines, diagnostic tools, biosecurity and management strategies;

- Improved training environment and racecourse design and surfaces, riding strategies, tack and equipment to enhance the safety, health and well-being of racehorses;

- Improved methods of identification, management and prevention of musculoskeletal disease and injury in Thoroughbreds;

- Improved male and female reproductive efficiency.