Britain's Levy Board has committed 1,780,000 pounds over the next three years to veterinary research projects, including new studies into a greater understanding of the causes of joint injuries and fractures.
The study of joint injuries is timely in light of Barbaro's injury in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I). The aim of the studies are to develop practical advice to help prevent such injuries during training and racing.
Dr Tim Rankin of the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket, England, is looking into condylar fractures. These are fractures of the bottom end of the cannon bone which enter the fetlock joint and extend obliquely upwards. Such fractures occur when working at speed or racing.
Dr Rankin's research will try and find detectable markers for lateral condylar fractures so that the risk of injury can be predicted by examination of horses' legs.
In another research project, Dr Kristien Verheyen of the Royal Veterinary College in London, England, is conducting a study of joint injuries among Thoroughbreds in training to see how common they are and discover any correlations between injury incidence and training surfaces and gallop construction.
"The Board's contribution is designed to have a significant impact on the management of Thoroughbred health problems," said chairman Robert Hughes.
The Levy Board, which collects money from bookmakers, is the statutory body responsible for distributing funds for the advancement of horseracing and breeding.
Studies into Thoroughbred respiratory diseases are also set to benefit from Levy Board backing, with one project aimed at developing an innovative video endoscope system to investigate common respiratory problems under training conditions.
The Levy Board will also work in conjunction with Britain's Thoroughbred Breeders' Association to support new research into developing a test for cyathostome worm infection, which often affects Thoroughbreds at stud and can lead to colic and death.
The funding is additional to the support currently distributed by the Levy Board to the Equine Fertility Unit and the equine genetics program.