Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - Sarah Bishop

The Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) veterinary science and education investment programme for 2016 includes:

  • 4 Major Research Projects
  • 4 Small Research Projects
  • 2 Senior Clinical Scholarships
  • 3 Equine Post Doctoral Fellowships  
  • 2 Infectious Disease Programmes


The HBLB’s Veterinary Advisory Committee (VAC) will again be managing new veterinary scientific research investment on behalf of the Racing Foundation, the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association (TBA) and the British European Breeders Fund (BEBF).  In addition to the funding allocation approved by HBLB of £1.55m (2015: £1.8m), £133,500 has been made available by the Foundation, while the TBA and BEBF have chosen to support two of the new Post Doctoral Fellowships with £352,000 and £60,000 respectively over three years.   In addition, both the TBA and ROA contribute towards the Equine Infectious Disease Service.

The opening of the 2016 application round will be announced shortly.

Professor Celia Marr, Chair of the HBLB’s VAC, said: “Our research and education programme has to be both scientifically robust and clearly relevant to the racing, breeding and rearing of Thoroughbreds and I am pleased that, with the support of our funding partners, we have been able to award some very exciting and high quality projects this year.  

 “It’s excellent that the Racing Foundation, the TBA and the BEBF are continuing to invest in veterinary research and that the infectious disease programmes continue to be supported by the TBA and ROA. I appreciate particularly the endorsement for our new initiative, the Post Doctoral Fellowships. The VAC will again be responsible for managing all the projects, making sure that the funders are kept up to date with progress.”

 Louise Kemble, Chief Executive of the TBA, said: “The TBA is fully committed to supporting equine science research which directly benefits the breeding and welfare of the Thoroughbred horse. Our support for Belinda Rose's post-doctoral study on placentation and pregnancy loss will ensure that her excellent PhD work on early pregnancy failure, also funded by the TBA, can make further progress to improve Thoroughbred mare fertility.

“We are also pleased to be joining with the HBLB and the British European Breeders Fund to co-fund research aimed at finding alternative therapies for controlling cyathostomes, which is crucial in the current climate of increased anthelmintic resistance on stud farms."

Rob Hezel, Chief Executive of The Racing Foundation, said: “The Racing Foundation is pleased to be able to fund two new applied research projects. One, investigating the use of allogenic equine embryonic stem cells for tendon regeneration, will develop existing stem cell therapeutics further with the potential to impact how injured racehorses are restored to full fitness.  The other, research into recurrent laryngeal neuropathy (known as ‘roaring’) will provide a major step towards finding a treatment for the condition that causes poor performance in racehorses.  Both projects, therefore, will be aiming to deliver very practical benefits for the horseracing and thoroughbred breeding industry."

Philip Freedman, Chairman of the BEBF, commented: “The BEBF remains committed to its assistance in the funding of veterinary research.  Thoroughbred stallion studs provide the core funding for the EBF and this vital research will not only benefit Thoroughbred breeders, but, in turn, the wider equine community. 

All grant applications are assessed by the HBLB’s VAC and by external experts in accordance with the established procedure before being discussed with the Foundation, the BEBF and TBA.  In addition, the VAC benefits from the advice of the British Horseracing Authority’s Veterinary Committee in selecting projects for funding.

Examples of the areas being covered by work starting this year are:

  • Early detection of tendon damage and new repair techniques  
  • Causes and consequences of roaring
  • Inflammatory airway disease
  • All weather track safety
  • Identification of potential musculoskeletal problems
  • Development of new cardiac assessment equipment
  • Equine influenza
  • Parasites on studs
  • Early pregnancy loss 
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