The Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) veterinary science and education investment programme has been increased to £2.6m from £2m in recognition of the importance of this key area for the sport and for the benefit of the Thoroughbred.

For 2022 the new activity, which is listed below, supported includes:

• 5 Major Research Projects
• 6 Small Research Projects
• 5 Scholarships
• 1 Equine Post-Doctoral Fellowship
• 2 Infectious Disease Surveillance Programmes

HBLB is also pleased to recognise the contributions being made by:

The Racing Foundation, which will again be supporting equine veterinary scientific research, providing £200,000 split between one of the major projects, the Post-Doctoral Fellowship and the small projects.
– The Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association (TBA), which has committed to share with HBLB the costs of one Research Scholarship and one major project, both of integral importance to the breeding industry.
The Gerald Leigh Charitable Trust, which HBLB welcomes as a new partner funder. The Trust is jointly funding the new small projects with the Racing Foundation.

The HBLB’s Veterinary Advisory Committee (VAC) will continue to manage ongoing projects and educational awards being funded by The Racing Foundation, the TBA and the British European Breeders’ Fund (BEBF). In addition, both the TBA and Racehorse Owners Association (ROA) contribute towards the Equine Infectious Disease Surveillance work.

Professor Sandy Love, Chair of the HBLB’s VAC, said:
“We have an interesting range of new work starting this year, all highly relevant to current issues within the Thoroughbred breeding and racing industry. The HBLB’s increased financial commitment is tremendous news as is the new participation of the Gerald Leigh Charitable Trust. Gerald was a great friend to our sport and enormously knowledgeable about racing and breeding. It’s delightful that he is still involved through his Trust.

“The full list of new awards is attached.

“The 2022 application round, for awards to start in 2023/24, will open on 21 June 2022.

”I am very pleased too to announce the new line-up of the VAC. I am very excited to be working with such a committed team. We are very sorry indeed to lose Colin Farquharson, Chris Proudman and, from last December, Rob van Pelt. They have been huge contributors to the VAC’s work. However, being a VAC member is very demanding and we have to let people go eventually.”

Rob Hezel, Chief Executive of The Racing Foundation, said:
“At The Racing Foundation our purpose is to be a catalyst for improvement within the industry by providing charitable grants to impactful projects.

“To date, we have provided over £1.5million of support for equine science research projects to enable work that will ultimately lead to practical benefits and improvements to Thoroughbred welfare.

“We are delighted to be supporting the RVC’s research into Recurrent Exertional Rhabdomyolysis (RER) to develop a better understanding of how to prevent ‘tying up’.

“We are also delighted to be supporting our first equine science post-doc research project through Dr Rebecca Mouncey’s study into why some foals do not progress to the racecourse and the outcomes of those that don’t.

“This project is highly relevant to the racing and breeding industries and integral to the Horse Welfare Board’s aftercare work that forms part of the ‘A Life Well Lived’ welfare strategy.

“Our pledge to support equine science research continues in 2022 with a further commitment of £200k for projects that will commence in 2023.”
Claire Sheppard, CEO of the TBA said:

“The TBA is delighted to co-fund two exciting new pieces of research that align with our purpose to encourage the improvement of the Thoroughbred horse in Great Britain. Dr Mandi de Mestre and her team at the RVC have previously produced excellent research into early pregnancy loss funded by the TBA, and we look forward to advancing this research further. In supporting a research scholarship about musculoskeletal disorders in new born foals, we hope this will benefit breeders and the horses in their care, and also support the HBLB’s aim to develop future veterinary research scientists”.

From Sarah Whitney of the Gerald Leigh Charitable Trust:

“For the first time, the Gerald Leigh Charitable Trust is very pleased to be co-funding three research projects with the Racing Foundation as part of the HBLB’s Equine Science Research Small Projects Grants Programme and in due course, we very much look forward to learning their findings. We consider that welfare of the thoroughbred racehorse and improvement of the breed are of paramount importance to our Bloodstock Industry.”

Comment from James Given, BHA Director of Equine Health and Welfare:

“Research funded by the HBLB covers many important areas that benefit racehorse welfare. However, the social licence that allows racing to continue is challenged and judged primarily over fatalities. I think it is vitally important we address this and therefore I would welcome research proposals that directly help reduce fatalities and/or secure the social licence to allow horseracing to prosper and thrive.”

New VAC Appointments
The Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) has approved the appointments of seven new Members of the VAC. It is unusual to be introducing so many new Members at the same time, but this is a consequence of appointment extensions while HBLB’s future was in question. In addition, the Board has agreed to expand the overall size of the Committee in recognition of the demands at critical points of the year.

The Board and the VAC are very pleased to welcome the following new Members who joined on 1 June 2022:

Prof Mark Bowen BVSc,PhD,MMS,FRCVS Formerly at Nottingham vet school; now independent consultant in equine cardiology and on the European Board of Veterinary Specialisation

Patrick Sells BVSc,BSc MRCVS Clinical specialist in reproduction, neonatology, stud medicine

Dr Ellen Singer BA,DVM,DVSc,MRCVS Formerly at Liverpool vet school; now in practice as equine surgery and orthopaedics specialist

Dr Katherine Staines BSc, PhD Senior Lecturer University of Brighton specialising in musculoskeletal biology and orthopaedics

Also joining the VAC, from 1 January 2023, will be:

Dr Emma Adam BVetMed, PhD, MRCVS Assistant professor at the University of Kentucky, leading on equine stakeholder outreach and liaison; research structure; and veterinary CPD

Prof John Burford MA, VetMB, PhD,FRCVS Clinical and research specialist in equine surgery at the University of Nottingham vet school

Prof Lutz Goehring DVM, MS, PhD Professor of Equine Infectious Diseases, the Gluck institute, University of Kentucky

2022 Application Round
The Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) is inviting applications for equine veterinary research and education grants to start from April 2023. Applications open on 21 June 2022. Details on the five award types and how to apply appear below.

The HBLB’s strategic research priorities are aligned with the outcomes of the Horse Welfare Board’s strategic plan for the welfare of horses bred for racing (2020-2024):

 Best possible quality of life, which include all aspects of healthcare, husbandry and disease control (e.g. improved methods of disease diagnosis, more effective vaccines, biosecurity and disease prevention strategies, antimicrobial and anthelmintic resistance)
 Best possible safety and well-being during breeding, training and racing (e.g. enhancement of diagnostic methods and restoration techniques after musculo-skeletal disease and injury, safer training and racing practices, minimisation of fatal and non-fatal injury)

 Lifetime responsibility for equine health (e.g. optimal health of breeding Thoroughbreds and youngstock, reproductive efficiency, evaluation of factors affecting transition to post-racing careers)
For further information please contact:
Professor Emeritus Sandy Love Tansy Challis
Chair, HBLB Veterinary Advisory Committee Grants Manager, The Racing Foundation

Annie Dodd Victoria Murrell
HBLB Grants Manager The Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association
020 7333 0043

Sarah Whitney
The Gerald Leigh Charitable Trust
Notes for editors:

The Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) 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.

The outcomes of HBLB-funded work are published in peer reviewed scientific journals. Lay summaries are posted on Please note that this blog is under revision, but will be available again from 1 September 2022.
In 2012 The Racing Foundation was established to oversee the distribution of funds to charitable causes within the racing and thoroughbred industries following the sale of the Tote. Since inception it has awarded £30million in grants. People, equine welfare, community engagement and environment and emerging issues are the key areas of focus in the latest strategy. The Trustees of the Racing Foundation are Julia Budd (Chair), Linda Bowles, Susannah Gill, Mark Johnston, Louise Kemble, Alice Page and Algy Smith-Maxwell. The British Horseracing Authority, the Horsemen’s Group and Racecourse Association are the three joint Members of the Racing Foundation, which is registered with the Charity Commission as a charity under the law of England and Wales (no. 1145297). @RacingGrants
The Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association was established in 1917 and remains committed to the long-term future of the British Thoroughbred and the interests of the British breeder. The charity strives to safeguard the health and welfare of the Thoroughbred for the overall improvement of the breed. This includes delivering training and education opportunities to ensure best practice on stud farms, veterinary research to maintain the highest health standards, and the encouragement of diversity within the breed for a stronger, more resilient Thoroughbred. The Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association (registered as a charitable company in England; company number 07073259, charity number 1134293).
The Gerald Leigh Charitable Trust was established in 1974 and, since its inception, has made regular donations to a range of worthy causes which focused on bloodstock, medical research and education. For many years, the Trust has been pleased to support various veterinary research projects which still remain one of its key charitable objectives moving forward. Gerald Leigh was a prominent owner breeder of racehorses based at Eydon Hall Farm in Northamptonshire. He established himself as a leading international breeder by developing strong families with a small but select band of broodmares. On the racecourse he achieved Classic and Group 1 winners throughout the world. In 1994, his homebred, Barathea won the Breeders’ Cup Mile in a course record and in 1990, Markofdistinction delivered a first Group 1 success for jockey Frankie Dettori in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. Among Mr Leigh’s commercial successes in the sales ring, his broodmare Korveya sold for a world-record $7 million in 1998.
HBLB Equine Scientific and Education Awards 2022
(TBA = Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association; RF = The Racing Foundation; GLCT = The Gerald Leigh Charitable Trust)
Major Projects Project Title Funding
Prof Janet Daly Nottingham Development of a safe and effective African Horse Sickness
Dr Kamalan Jeevaratnam Surrey Artificial intelligence-based solutions for racecourse dilemmas; novel computational approaches and evidence-based clinical decision-making in equine exercise-associated arthythmia
Dr Mandi de Mestre Royal Veterinary College (RVC) Development of a non-invasive diagnostic test to assess fetal health in the pregnant mare TBA
Dr Androniki Psifidi RVC Aetiopathogenesis and genetic architecture of recurrent exertional rhabdomyolysis (RER) in UK Thoroughbred horses RF
Prof Kristien Verheyen RVC Life after Racing: Who’s a winner?
Small Projects Project Title
Prof Steve Bull Bath Novel bio-derived repellents for the protection of horses against biting insects including horseflies, midges and ticks RF
Prof Janet Daly Nottingham Improving surveillance techniques to identify key Tabanid (biting fly) species as potential vectors of equine viruses RF
Dr Rachel Murray Rossdales Validation of standing cone beam computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging against pathological examination for detection of prodromal fetlock injury RF & GLCT
Prof Mandy Peffers Liverpool Do platelet rich plasma (PRP) derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) contribute towards rescuing the inflammatory tendon phenotype? RF
Dr Sandy Shanklin Liverpool The impact of metallic implants used in equine fracture repair on low-field MRI findings and identification of suitable scanning protocols to reduce this impact RF & GLCT
Dr Simon Tew Liverpool Improving the annotation of genes across the equine genome RF & GLCT
Post-Doctoral Fellowship
Rebecca Mouncey RVC Epidemiology and Economics of Thoroughbred Breeding RF
Research Scholarships
Dr Kate Allen Bristol Advanced analytics applied to endoscopic analysis of upper airway function
Dr Mandi de Mestre RVC Epidemiology and genetics of congenital musculoskeletal disorders in neonatal Thoroughbreds TBA
Prof Paul Pryor York Mechanistic insights into VapA and the treatment of Rhodococcus equi
Clinical Scholarships
Prof Debbie Archer Liverpool Measuring local strain distributions through the equine SDFT as a novel non-invasive marker of tendon function and healing
Prof Roger Smith RVC Novel non-invasive predictor of tendon function with and without injury

2022 Application Round
The Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) is inviting applications for equine veterinary research and education grants to start from April 2023. Applications open on 21 June 2022. The website and links will not be activated before then, so do not try to access before midday on 21 June.

There are five award types:

RESEARCH PROJECT GRANTS Application deadline is 2pm on Monday 19 September 2022
The HBLB supports scientifically robust research projects to benefit the racing, breeding and rearing of the Thoroughbred. Innovative and novel research approaches are encouraged and all applications will be subject to peer review and full evaluation by the Board’s VAC.

Applications are made online via the HBLB’s Equine Grants System. Visit the ‘Advancing Veterinary Science and Education’ section on the HBLB website for information on:

• Research priorities and scope
• Eligibility
• Applications
• Other activity in the veterinary sphere

All applications will be subject to the normal HBLB review process.

SMALL PROJECT GRANTS Application deadline is 2pm on Monday 31 October 2022
This fund supports research focusing on specific issues of direct and immediate practical importance to the Thoroughbred. The grants are open to individuals employed by veterinary schools, universities and research institutes, veterinary practitioners or elsewhere in the Thoroughbred racing and breeding industry. HBLB is particularly interested in receiving applications from clinicians, farriers and others involved directly in the care of horses. Projects are limited to one year with costs restricted to around £10,000. The application pack and form will appear in the ‘Advancing Veterinary Science and Education’ section on the HBLB website.

EDUCATION AWARDS Application deadline is 2pm on Monday 19 September 2022
The two types of award are as follows:
• Veterinary Research Training Scholarships offer four year funding to pursue a PhD programme in any scientific or veterinary field relevant to equines and particularly the racing, breeding or rearing of Thoroughbreds.

• Senior Equine Clinical Scholarships allow veterinary graduates with at least two years’ practical experience to train for a higher qualification, such as a European Diploma, over four years. The qualification must be in an equine field with particular relevance to the Thoroughbred.

Applications for both types of award must be made by the prospective supervisor within an eligible institution, such as a university veterinary school, other university department or research institute. Awards include a tax-free stipend to cover living costs and an expense allowance for research costs and other purposes directly relevant to the scholarship.

For full information and to apply, please download an application pack and form from the ‘Advancing Veterinary Science and Education’ section on

EQUINE POST-DOCTORAL FELLOWSHIP Application deadline is 2pm on Monday 19 September 2022

The HBLB is again inviting applications from recent veterinary PhD graduates for a post-doctoral fellowship.
Introduced in 2016, the Equine Post-Doctoral Fellowships are aimed at exceptional veterinary PhDs, with the skills and aptitude to develop a leading academic or clinical academic career in equine veterinary sciences. The area of research must be focused on Thoroughbred racing, breeding or rearing. The fellowship will be tenable for three years.

For full information and to apply, please download an application pack and form from the ‘Advancing Veterinary Science and Education’ section on

For further information please contact Annie Dodd, Grants Manager at the Levy Board, at

Print Friendly, PDF & Email