Further details about EHV vaccination for racing in France

Last week we told you about the mandatory EHV vaccination required to race in France next year. Some trainers have asked for clarity about details of the vaccination intervals required by France Galop. The BHA has issued the following guidance:

Vaccination Protocol
The vaccination protocol will be the same as the protocol for vaccinations against Equine Influenza:

  • The horse must have received two primary vaccinations which are given not less than 21 days and not more than 92 days apart
  • If sufficient time has elapsed, the horse must also have received o A booster vaccination which is given not less than 150 days and not more than 215 days after the second component of the primary vaccination
  • Further booster vaccinations at intervals of not more than a year apart (or such lesser times as the Authority may, in an emergency, decide) Booster vaccinations at six months are not required, though these may be administered in accordance with the vaccine manufacturer’s recommendations if deemed appropriate by a trainer’s veterinary surgeon.

The horse must have been vaccinated against Equine Herpes Virus by a veterinary surgeon, and the vaccination must be licensed for use in UK.

Stand-Down period following vaccination
France: none of the vaccinations must have been given on the day of a race in which the horse is declared to run or on any of the 4 days before the race.
Great Britain: none of the vaccinations must have been given on the day of a race in which the horse is declared to run or on any of the 6 days before the race. This Stand-Down period applies to all vaccinations, including Equine Herpes Virus.

Failure to comply Horses arriving on racecourses in France that have not been correctly vaccinated against Equine Herpes Virus will not be permitted to run.

This Rule has not yet been published in the France Galop Rules of Racing. The requirements of the Rule will be made effective 3 months after publication. The BHA will communicate the date of publication as soon as it is made aware.

New ringworm certificate required from 1st December

From 1st December, if you are taking a horse previously affected by ringworm to the racecourse, a new form must be used to certify that it is no longer contagious. The form can be found on the BHA website here [and at the link at the end of this article.] The differences from the old certificate are:

  • The certificate is now valid for 14 days, rather than 30
  • The certificate now requires a stamp from the veterinary surgeon that is signing the certificate
  • The horse’s microchip number is now required
  • Section A: a diagnosis for the non-contagious dermatitis is now required
  • Section B: the BHA will now accept fungal culture and PCR results, in addition to fungal microscopy
  • Section C: the word ‘prescribed’ has been removed (as Imaverol is a POM-VPS, and may be obtained by a trainer without a vet’s prescription)
  • Section C: the vet is now signing to say that he/she has examined the horse post-treatment, and there is no evidence of active ringworm in his/her opinion. On the old-style certificate, the vet was signing to say that they were prescribing treatment (but not that the horse had been treated)

There is also a minor rule change in the pipeline relating to ringworm. The modification is to rule (C)31 such that a horse “which appears to be affected with any form of ringworm may be withdrawn.” Arguably this reflects how the rule is being applied now. The rule change is effective from 1st January 2018.


EHV vaccine to become mandatory to race in France

The BHA has been told by France Galop that from January 2018, it will make vaccination against Equine Herpes Virus mandatory under their rules of racing. We understand that the BHA and Animal Health Trust do not favour the French policy. However, a letter written by France Galop and found on the internet by a British trainer states, “The EHV vaccination was already mandatory in France for the breeding stock…and our stakeholders have expressed the will to have all the racehorses vaccinated. Consequently we have decided to extend the benefit of this vaccination to the training and racing areas.”

The French policy appears to disregard the shortage of vaccine in Europe and the problems encountered by trainers who have used imported vaccine. Although the letter indicates that the rule has not yet been published, it would be wise to plan ahead now if you intend to have runners in France after 1st January 2018.


Microchip number must be checked against passport

With effect from 1st January 2018, the rules will require trainers to have checked the microchip number for all horses in their care against the number in the horse’s passport. This is in addition to the existing requirement to check that the horse’s markings match those in the passport. Any discrepancy in either must be notified to Weatherbys.

Your vet will have a microchip scanner so you can ask him/her to check the number during a routine visit. Alternatively, some trainers may find it useful to purchase their own scanner; they cost around £50. Halo is a brand being used and suppliers can be found online.

Strangles can be eradicated – with the Thoroughbred industry leading the way

The Strangles Workshop recently held at the fabulous Animal Health Trust (AHT) Visitor Centre provided a fascinating insight into the complex and ground breaking disease surveillance and research underway into this disease. Strangles is endemic across most of the world, with evidence that more than 600 outbreaks are identified annually in the UK alone, but thankfully very few of these occur in British racehorses.

New research at the AHT, which was presented at the meeting, tracked the international spread of Streptococcus equi, the cause of strangles, through 22 countries from around the World. “Our results showed that European countries generously share their populations of Streptococcus equi, but we also saw exchange of strains in the UK with the USA, South America, Australia and the United Arab Emirates” explained Dr Andrew Waller, Head of Bacteriology at the AHT. “We believe that outwardly healthy persistently infected ‘carrier’ horses could be to blame for the international transport of strangles.” Recognising the risks of introducing strangles via the international transport of horses, the authorities in Dubai now insist on the mandatory testing of blood samples from horses for exposure to strangles pre-export. Dr. Waller said “Early findings indicate that this intervention has helped to identify carriers before they had the opportunity to introduce strangles to Dubai, preventing new outbreaks and breaking the cycle of disease.”

Although strangles is complex, the meeting consistently delivered this strong message “Strangles can be prevented.” Dr Richard Newton, Director of Epidemiology and Surveillance at the AHT described methods to prevent strangles from getting into a yard and to eradicate it should the worst happen. Dr Newton explained; “Although strangles is uncommon among racehorses in training, it is a disease, along with equine influenza and neurological equine herpes virus, which requires trainers to immediately notify the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) so that effective steps can be taken to prevent its spread through the racing network. The rarity of strangles in racing is undoubtedly linked to the zero-tolerance that the industry has to it, such that trainers, their vets and the BHA all work closely together to control and eradicate the disease when it occurs.” Dr Newton continued, “It is important that racing remains vigilant and in particular becomes open to adopting wider preventive strategies such as quarantining and screening batches of horses entering training for the first time and those returning from events, such as international meetings, where there may be a heightened risk of introducing a range of infectious diseases including strangles.”


For further information, please contact: Rebecca Calver, AHT press office, 01638 751000 ext. 1572


The Animal Health Trust (AHT) is the UK’s leading veterinary and scientific research charity, dedicated to the health and wellbeing of dogs, cats and horses.  It aims to improve the health and welfare of horses, dogs and cats through research, but also provides specialist referral services and continuous education to vets. Throughout 2017, the AHT is celebrating its 75th Anniversary – that’s 75 years of leading science and care for animals. Visit the website www.aht.org.uk


New form of examination to check suitability to race

The way in which the BHA checks that certain horses are fit to race is set to change and this will replace the “poor movers list”. The new method is called a “suitability to race examination”. It has been used informally over the last three months to assess the practicalities and gain responses from trainers. As a result of positive feedback these examinations will be rolled out on a permanent basis across all affected horses and therefore remove the poor movers list and protocol.

The reason for instigating this STR examination is to allow trainers and owners, their stable vets, and BHA vets to be confident that horses that arrive at the races with a history of idiosyncratic gaits will be able to race. It removes the problem of withdrawing horses on raceday once they have arrived at that racecourse because they are deemed at trot up to be lame. It also allows the BHA Veterinary Officers (VO) to have confidence that these horses have gaits that do not represent on-going pathology changes which could result in a catastrophic injury and hence welfare issues.

How it works:

  • Horses are identified by BHA VOs as having consistent abnormal gaits or have a history of being examined and possibly withdrawn on raceday a number of times because of their gait movements.
  • The trainer is notified by letter that their horse is to be subject to a STR examination because of one of those criteria.
  • The examination is to occur at the trainer’s stables and not on race day when the horse may be entered to race.
  • The trainer has the option to have his/her stable veterinary surgeon present when the examination takes place. There will also be a full review of the horse’s history and its medication records.
  • The examination consists of two stages: an examination, including a trot up which will be video recorded, before the horse undertakes a gallop and a further examination of the horse after it has completed a gallop.
  • Any horse presented for a STR examination may be drug tested in accordance with the Rules of Racing.
  • If the horse is passed as suitable to race, it may be entered and race as normal. It will be subject to on-going random VO checks on its gait on race days as it continues to race. If there is a deterioration in its action or a change in gait in future, it may be subject to a repeated STR examination, otherwise it continues to race as a normal racehorse.
  • If the horse is deemed unsuitable to race at any point by the VO, it may not be declared for a race until it has completed a satisfactory STR examination.
  • If there is a disagreement on the outcome of this initial examination a Senior Raceday Veterinarian will accompany the VO on the subsequent examination.

This is a significant welfare initiative and, although it will never completely stop race day catastrophic injuries, it should give both the industry and the general public confidence that welfare is the prime focus of the racing industry.

Thoroughbred Health Network launches pelvic fractures research review

The THN have reviewed the literature available and written a review of the risk factors, diagnosis and future prognosis of pelvic fractures.  They have identified 10 key messages which are clearly organised by the level of scientific evidence supporting for each point available in the academic paper itself.

 The Thoroughbred Health Network has now been approved as a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) by OSCR.  The THN first launched in June 2015 as a northern pilot project and expanded nationwide in March 2017.  This structure enables the THN to work throughout Scotland, England and Wales.  The objectives of the THN will remain the same, these are to 1) build a network of those interested in horse health and 2) review, translate and communicate research findings. Follow the growing THN network on Twitter: @ThoroughbredHN   www.thoroughbredhealthnetwork.co.uk