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Dr Andi Horvath

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Racehorse welfare is set to improve with the announcement of new funding to the University of Melbourne to reduce the frequency of joint injuries.

The grant from the Victorian State Government and Racing Victoria aims to target the training programs of racehorses to reduce the frequency of joint injury and serious fractures.

Professor Ken Hinchcliff, Dean of the faculty of Veterinary Science said, “We welcome the support from the Victorian Government and Racing Victoria that recognizes the importance of the scientific research needed to further enhance racehorse wellbeing in the racing industry.”

“We believe this research grant will help to increase the career longevity of thoroughbreds, reduce breakdowns and fatal injuries and improve equine welfare, along with that the associated economic benefits.”

Elite racehorses, like human athletes, can suffer fatigue fractures and have sustained injuries that can prematurely cut short their sporting career.

University of Melbourne researchers have previously examined the fetlocks (ankle) of racehorses and noted an accumulation of micro-fractures on the interface between the cartilage and bone, and speculated that with a well-designed training regime these micro fractures can be managed.

Prof Chris Whitton, Associate Professor Head of the Equine Centre said, “By measuring the accumulation of micro-damage and repair in racehorses our research will help to inform training regimes and equine management practices to reduce the frequency of bone damage and serious injury.”