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• Horses are identified by BHA VOs as having consistent abnormal gaits or have a history of being examined and possibly withdrawn on raceday a number of times because of their gait movements.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  

International consistency regarding use of cobalt-containing supplements (IFHA)

The International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) has published guidance in their Advisory Document Cobalt Threshold Values – Advisory Document regarding Cobalt Threshold Values, providing further information on the use of cobalt containing supplements.

If you have any questions please contact the NTF office or Amanda Piggott, BHA Veterinary Adviser.


Advice to prevent contamination in stables

Today’s news headlines relating Dean Ivory’s unfortunate experience is a potent reminder of the necessity for stringent policies in your yard to manage not just equine but also human medication. At the NTF we know from this summer’s regional meetings how vulnerable trainers feel as a result of the strict liability rules.

In the May/June 2017 printed newsletter, we published a reminder of the advice available from the NTF about medication control and preventing contamination through various sources including feedstuffs and bedding. There is an information sheet entitled “Guidance on preventing contamination by prohibited substances” on our website under Information/Veterinary. It is divided into three main areas: contaminated feedstuffs including the BETA NOPS Code; cross contamination; and medication management. One extract reads:

“Advise staff not to urinate in stables at the yard or raceday stables – highlight the very real risk of cross contamination this poses.”

In the same area of our website you can also find a template poster about avoding the risks of contamination. We are working on the production of a laminated version of this to send to all our members in the near future.

If you would like more advice about the types of measures you can take to show you have taken all reasonable measures to prevent contamination, please speak to Dawn Bacchus at the NTF office.

Promoting ‘The Horse Comes First’ at Epsom Open Day and Newmarket Open Weekend

The NTF is a supporter of The Horse Comes First, an industry-wide initiative which many trainers will be familiar with. The Horse Comes First promotes and raises awareness of the high standards of equine welfare in the sport. The initiative aims to improve understanding of the care given to our horses throughout and after their careers in racing.

The Epsom Trainers’ Open Day on Monday 28th August and Newmarket Open Weekend on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th September are great opportunities for trainers to engage with The Horse Comes First and share the positive messaging about the high levels of welfare with visitors to yards. Here’s how trainers can get involved.

HCF logo

British Racing has a track record to be proud of: British Racing is among the world’s best regulated animal activities. The sport employs over 6,000 people to provide care and attention for the 14,000 horses in training, providing them with a level of care and a quality of life that is virtually unsurpassed by any other domesticated animal.

British Racing has a duty of care to its horses: Since the year 2000, British Racing has invested £32 million in veterinary research and education.

British Racing is open and transparent: Within the last 20 years, the equine fatality rate in British Racing has fallen by one-third, from 0.3% to 0.2% of runners.

Further information and messaging from The Horse Comes First can be found on its website ( and we welcome you to share the messaging as you show visitors around your yards.



RSPCA asks racing community for winning homes for companion ponies

The RSPCA is asking racing trainers for help rehoming small hack and companion ponies this summer.

For several years now the RSPCA and other horse charities has been picking up the pieces of the equine crisis, with inspectors being called out to sick, injured, neglected or cruelly treated horses every single day.

Despite their best efforts the RSPCA has more than 800 horses, donkeys and ponies in care and is asking for the racing community for help to give them winning homes.

Amy Quirk, a former jockey, and the RSPCA’s director of field operations, said: “We are asking the racing community for help rehoming our ponies as we know these animals will get fantastic care and also lead purposeful lives as hacks or field and travel companions for your thoroughbreds.

“You may not have considered rehoming a rescue horse until now, but we have hundreds of really smart little ponies (like little Chewie, pictured) who are just waiting for a chance in a new home after being rescued from serious neglect and cruelty.”

To find out more, please email the RSPCA website and see the companion horses, ponies and donkeys currently available for rehoming or foster (


New stand-down period: BISPHOSPHONATE

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) would like to advise the Responsible Person (i.e. trainers, owners, breeders) and their veterinary surgeons of a new Rule requiring a mandatory 30 day Stand-Down period from racing following the administration of any bisphosphonate licensed for equine use. This Rule will be effective from 10 August 2017.

“11B The horse must not have been administered

11.B.1any bisphosphonate under the age of three years and six months as determined by its recorded date of birth, or

11.B.2 any bisphosphonate on the day of the race or on any of the 30 days before the day of the race in which the horse is declared to run”.

The BHA expectations with regard to the use of bisphosphonates in horses racing or intending to race in Great Britain in order to comply with the Rules of Racing

·       The product used should be licensed for use in horses the UK;

·       The horse must be over three years and six months of age at the time of administration as determined by its recorded date of birth;

·       There must be a diagnosis determined by a veterinary surgeon that supports the use of a bisphosphonate as an appropriate treatment; and

·       The bisphosphonate must be administered by a veterinary surgeon.

Due to their complex nature and action, the excretion of bisphosphonates may be unpredictable, leading to considerable variation in excretion times.  This variability may be increased when bisphosphonates are administered to horses with on-going musculoskeletal disease process, including the possibility that bisphosphonates may be released from bone at a period remote from initial administration. As such, it cannot be guaranteed that future musculoskeletal disease processes will not result in an Adverse Analytical Finding.

As a guide, the BHA are aware of data from studies in normal horses which indicate that if a single dose of Tildren® (CEVA) at 1 mg/kg were administered intravenously, the Detection Time would be unlikely to exceed the Stand-Down period. A discussion between the Responsible Person and their veterinary surgeon is essential when considering administration of any medication which is a Prohibited Substance on raceday.


03 July 2017