HBLB announces plans to fund projects with an increased thoroughbred research budget in excess of £2 million
In 2014, more than £2 million will be spent on veterinary research in the thoroughbred industry, with a major injection of £1.8 million from the Horserace Betting and Levy Board (HBLB), which will also oversee a donation from The Racing Foundation of £220,000, plus a further £20,000 from the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association.
The Levy Board’s financial commitment to this area has increased by 12.5% on the amount spent in 2013, and it will be used to fund seven new research projects this year, four of which are being part-funded by The Racing Foundation.
They include looking at ways to combat both historic and emerging diseases, the investigation of potential vaccines against Rhodococcus equi infection in foals, against African Horse Sickness and Grass Sickness.
“The new coordination of equine veterinary research investment, bringing together a number of funding streams, is a very welcome step forward,” said Professor Willie Donachie, Chairman of the HBLB Veterinary Advisory Committee (VAC).
“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.“
Other research projects on the agenda for 2014 will include the monitoring of racehorse gait in a bid to aid the early detection of musculoskeletal injury, identifying new stem cell sources, repair and prevention of bone fractures, and the environmental and genetic factors in racecourse injury.
Another new source of income for this year is derived from the Small Projects Grants Fund, which is reserved for programmes of no longer than 12 months in duration and focusing on specific issues of direct and immediate practical application to the health and wellbeing of the thoroughbred.
The European Breeders’ Fund (EBF) is supporting two projects – one which looks at how light and temperature affect ovulation and the second considering why the Rhodococcus equi organism is so virulent.
Philip Freedman, Chairman of the British European Breeders’ Fund, said: “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.“
Meanwhile, the TBA will fund an investigation into the intestinal bacterial disease Lawsonia intracellularis, a serious issue for foals.
“The TBA has provided financial support to the valuable work of the Levy Board’s VAC for a number of years,” commented TBA Chief Executive Louise Kemble. “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.“
Information on all new projects and with summaries describing recent and current research on diseases and injuries of the thoroughbred, will shortly be available on the online resource at http://racehorsehealth.hblb.org.uk.