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Ex-Racehorses invited to take part in vital research

Ex-racehorses entered in the SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse qualifier at Bury Farm on the 10th June will have the opportunity to take part in Animal Health Trust (AHT) research. By providing a simple DNA swab, horses in the class will be helping vital research into reducing the risk of fracture in racehorses.
At present 11% of horses in training will sustain a fracture during their careers and the goal of this research is to significantly reduce this number. The Animal Health Trust (AHT) have established a link between DNA and the likelihood of fracture in thoroughbreds. A team at the trust are now developing a new test which will identify thoroughbreds with an increased risk of fracture by taking a simple DNA swab. In order to validate this test the AHT will take DNA swabs from racehorses that have finished their careers sound.
The AHT’s Head of Stem Cell Research, Dr Debbie Guest is leading the development of this new DNA test. Debbie and her team will be at Bury Farm on the 10th of June to take DNA swabs from horses entered in the SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse qualifier with owners that wish to take part in the research.
Debbie said: “We are aiming to take a simple DNA swab test of around 250 control horses that have finished their racing careers sound and also around 250 horses that have sustained fractures during their racing careers. The resulting new DNA test will provide a breakthrough in managing the risks associated with fracture in racehorses. Opportunities such as the SEIB qualifier at Bury Farm where there will be plenty of ex-racehorses together really help us increase the number of horses in our control group.”
Top race and – very recently retired – show horse, HM The Queen’s, Barbers Shop recently had his DNA swab taken as part of the control group in this research. His rider and producer, Katie Jerram said: “We were delighted that Barbers Shop could take part in such valuable research. This new test will be brilliant for the future of British thoroughbreds.”
Debbie and her team will be also be available to take DNA swabs from ex-racehorses at the qualifiers for the SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse finals at Vale View and the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.
SEIB’s Marketing Manager, Nicolina Mackenzie said: “We are thrilled to be supporting this valuable research. SEIB set up the Racehorse to Riding Horse series to help ex-racehorses lead better lives and we take anything we can do to support the ongoing welfare of thoroughbreds very seriously. It takes moments to have a DNA swab taken and we anticipate that many of the Racehorse to Riding Horse competitors will be keen to take part.”
Debbie continued: “Over the past 20 years, much has been done to reduce the number of racehorse fatalities on British racecourses. The British Horseracing Authority has made many changes including decreasing the number of runners in some races and changing fence profiles. However, over the past 10 years the level of equine fatalities on the racecourse has remained constant. We now need to look at the biological factors and why some horses are predisposed to fracture.”
If you have an ex-racehorse that has retired sound from racing with no known fractures and you would like to take part in the development of this new test by having your horse swabbed please contact Dr Debbie Guest Debbie.guest@aht.org.uk.

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