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British EBF role in global Strangles research recognised

Wed 10 Mar 2021

Strangles risks affect racing and breeding stock

Funding provided by the British EBF has been recognised as findings of a DNA investigation highlighting the ‘unbridled globetrotting’ of the Strangles pathogen in horses is published.

In the largest ever study of its kind into an equine pathogen, which was published today in the journal ‘Microbial Genomics’, scientists in 18 countries used the latest DNA sequencing techniques to track the bacteria Streptococcus equi as it caused the disease strangles in horses around the world.

Strangles, caused by Streptococcus equi, is the most frequently diagnosed infectious disease of horses, with 600 outbreaks estimated to occur in the United Kingdom each year. Streptococcus equi invades the lymph nodes of head and neck, causing them to swell and form abscesses that can literally strangle, in around 2% of cases, the horse to death. Some of the horses that recover from strangles remain persistently infected. These apparently healthy animals shed bacteria into the environment and spread the disease to other horses with which they come into contact.

“Using standard diagnostic testing, the Streptococcus equi strains look almost identical, however by carefully examining the DNA of the bacteria, we have been able to track different variants as they spread across the world” said Prof. Matthew Holden of the University of St Andrews.

“Piecing the puzzle together, we showed that cases in Argentina, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates were closely linked. Along with other examples, we provide evidence that the global trade and movement of horses is helping to spread the disease.”

“Building on top of the data generated, we provide an online surveillance platform for strangles enabling labs to upload and interpret their genomic and epidemiological data in close to real-time. Pathogenwatch will be used to monitor the emergence and spread of new lineages to help inform interventions and policy making decisions” said Prof David Aanensen of The Centre for Genomic Pathogen Surveillance, University of Oxford.

“Strangles was first described in medieval times and, with the exception of Iceland, affects horses in all corners of the world. Freedom from this disease enjoyed by Iceland is by virtue of a ban on the import of horses, which has been in place for over 1,000 years” commented Prof. James Gilkerson of the University of Melbourne and Chair of the International Equine Infectious Diseases Committee. “This new study provides evidence of the important role played by the movement of horses in spreading this disease, providing new opportunities for interventions that prevent future outbreaks.”

“This has been an incredible team effort, which was only possible through the collaboration of leading researchers from twenty-nine different scientific institutes in eighteen countries” said Dr. Andrew Waller of Intervacc AB.

“Horses are transported all over the world as they move to new premises or attend competitions and events. New cases of strangles can be prevented by treating carriers before they pass on the bacteria. This new research in the field of strangles and the new online Pathogenwatch resource provide an opportunity to track the course of infections, reigning-in Streptococcus equi’s globetrotting lifestyle by shutting the stable door before this horse pathogen has bolted!”

Simon Sweeting, Chairman of the British EBF, commented:

“Equine veterinary research is an integral part of the British European Breeders’ Fund’s support for the horse racing and breeding industry.  The Trustees are delighted to have been able to provide financial resources to Dr Waller and his international colleagues, which has enabled this vital work on tracking and managing the Strangles pathogen in the horse population.”

To date, the British EBF has directly funded over £1,250,000 of equine veterinary research projects, in addition to our prize money allocations.

Since 2000, they have wholly or partly funded veterinary research covering subjects as diverse as the Equine Genome Project and the identification of virulence factors associated with Rhodococcus. In recent years, the focus has been on research specifically relating to the breeding industry and has covered areas such as the effects of light and temperature on delayed ovulation and an extensive study in to potential alternatives to traditional parasite control in thoroughbred mares and young-stock.

Read or download the full published paper here:

Editor’s Notes:

About Intervacc: Intervacc AB is a Swedish company within animal health developing safe, effective vaccines for animals. The Company’s vaccine candidates are based on several years of research at Karolinska Institutet and Swedish University of Agricultural Research where the foundation was laid for the Company´s research and development work

Competitive Line up for €65,000 Red Mills Irish EBF Auction Hurdle Final

Thu 22 Oct 2020

Zero Ten and David Mullins winning the Connolly’s Red Mills EBF Auction Hurdle Series Final. Punchestown Festival. Photo: Patrick McCann/Racing Post 01.05.2019

Fifteen trainers have entered seventeen horses for a chance to run in the €65,000 Connolly’s Red Mills Irish EBF Auction Hurdle Final over 2 miles and 4 furlongs at Punchestown on Wednesday 28th October, 2020. Six of the horses entered are already series winners having won their maidens during the 2019/2020 season. The average auction purchase price of all the horses entered is just under €11,000, with a maximum purchase price of €26,000 and the lowest at €1,200. Of the five fillies entered four are in with a chance to win first prize-money of €39,000 and the €5,000 Weatherbys/ITBA NH Fillies Bonus Scheme if they are first past the post. The final, which was originally scheduled to be run at the Punchestown Festival, is open to all horses which ran in a qualifying auction hurdle race between August 2019 and March 2020 and have not won a Listed or Grade 1, 2 or 3 bumper or hurdle race.

Among the entries is Arcadian Sunrise, a recent winner on the flat for John Queally, he got off the mark in a qualifier at Thurles before following up in a Series Novice hurdle at Leopardstown in March. Dime a Dozen has been a model of consistency for John Hanlon and was an impressive winner in her maiden at Cork last October. Gold Speed was purchased for just €10,000 and now a three time winner his recent success over course and distance at Punchestown should leave the Adrian Murray trained son of Gold Well spot on for next week’s final. Finally, the Henry de Bromhead trained Fully Charged is the highest rated horse entered in the final, a €7,000 Tattersalls Ireland August graduate who has already won his purchase price back by winning his qualifier in Limerick last Christmas.

Shark Hanlon, trainer, said; “Dime A Dozen definitely runs and I’m delighted with her. We’ll give her a little bit of a blow over the weekend, and that should leave her right. I’ve been delighted with her all season and she is just rock solid. The Red Mills Irish EBF Series is brilliant and it’s great for trainers like me who have to work off a certain budget at the sales. There is a great bunch of lads involved with her and all roads lead to Punchestown on Wednesday.”

Adrian Murray, trainer of Gold Speed, said; “It’s a great series and he deserves a crack at a good race like this. He has won a bumper and two hurdle races for us and he is a horse that is going the right way. He was very good the last day in a handicap hurdle at Punchestown and he’ll do a little bit here in the morning and assuming that goes well, he’ll run in the final on Wednesday. On ratings he has his chance and it’s a great initiative and it’s a lovely pot to be running for.”

Nessa Joyce, Irish EBF Manager, said; “The Red Mills Irish EBF auction hurdle series has given owners, trainers and vendors at the sales a lucrative series of races to target with their horses, we are delighted to see such quality entries in the rescheduled final, and would like to thank connections for supporting the final and the series to date. The 2020/2021 series is already up and running and the plan is to host the 2021 final in its regular slot at the Punchestown festival.”

Gareth Connolly, Sales and Marketing Director at Connolly’s RED MILLS, said; “With all the current challenges, it’s great to have the Final to look forward too – we have all had to continue to adapt and we recognise and appreciate the huge effort being made by everyone to stage RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Hurdle Series Final. It’s great to see such a broad spread of trainers represented and we are delighted to be able to support the Final where a significant prize-fund is on offer, it presents a super opportunity for those horses taking part.”

Link to entries on HRI RAS site –

British EBF maintain annual National Hunt support for 2020/ 2021 season

Thu 22 Oct 2020

Thanks to the health of the domestic National Hunt stallion market in recent years; the trustees of the British EBF are pleased to announce that support for the 2020/ 2021 Jumps Season will remain unchanged at around £120,000.

The money is divided between the ever-popular National Hunt Novice Hurdle Series with its final at Sandown in March and 3 initiatives to support National Hunt mares.  These include series with finals for National Hunt bred mares over hurdles and chase fences and a non-qualifier-based programme of mares’ bumpers.

In line with the British EBF aim of ensuring all funding is directed to prize money, 100% of their contributions to National Hunt races this season are to be reflected above the BHA minimum value of a race.

Simon Sweeting, Chairman of the British EBF and owner of successful National Hunt stallion stud, Overbury, commented:

“The British EBF National Hunt support is lower than our contribution to flat racing but it is proportional to the income we receive from National Hunt/ Dual Purpose stallions and to the number of races we cover under each code.  We support around 85 jumps races each season, against a figure of nearer 700 for flat racing.

Our £120,000 prize money enhancement is vital in a season such as this. Owners can be confident that where they see EBF in a race title, the prize money is guaranteed to be higher than the required BHA minimum value for the class.

We are very grateful for all our contributions, from both flat and national hunt stallion owners, who have contributed a combined total of £36 million since 1983.

Full Field to Compete for €120,000 Foran Equine Irish EBF Auction Series Final

Fri 16 Oct 2020

Naas Sun 20 October 2019 The presentation for The Foran Equine Irish EBF Auction Race Final won by Lustown Baba to The Back Road Syndicate, Willie McCreery and Leigh Roche
Naas Sun 20 October 2019 The presentation for The Foran Equine Irish EBF Auction Race Final won by Lustown Baba to The Back Road Syndicate, Willie McCreery and Leigh Roche

A full field will fight for the €120,000 on offer this Sunday at Naas Racecourse in the sixth running of the Foran Equine Irish EBF Auction Series Final, included in the list of declared runners are nine horses who have each won a qualifying race since the start of the series in June. In addition, there is the €30,000 Foran Equine Irish EBF Nursery Handicap race that will be run before the final on Sunday, this means there is €150,000 of prize-money on offer between the two races for connections of horses who have run in the 2020 series.

Joseph O’Brien heads the weights with Vafortino and Snapraeterea, the former was recently third in a stakes race in Tipperary and the later was third in the Group 3 Beresford stakes at the Curragh. Sheila Lavery heads to Naas with two runners, Belle Image and Supershock, Belle Image is a recent winner in the series when she lost her maiden tag impressively at the Curragh in a Foran Equine Irish EBF qualifying race. Last year’s winning trainer, Willie McCreery, is represented by Huddle Up who cost only €8,000 at the 2019 Goffs Sportman’s Sale and has earned nearly €16,000 from running in the series alone. Ger Lyons has two series winners declared, Ecliptical and Amber Kite for owners Vincent Gaul and Sean Jones respectively.  Johnny Murtagh is another trainer to have two runners with the fillies Amazed By Grace, who won her series maiden in Dundalk and Revolutme who was third in a series maiden won by Ken Condon’s Miss Amulet now a group two winning and group one placed filly.

Johnny Murtagh, trainer said; “It’s a great initiative and to have two runners in the final is brilliant. It’s a wonderful series and it has really helped me to get new owners into the yard. I go out and buy yearlings for the series and I have no doubt that it has attracted new owners into the game, which is very important. Amazed By Grace and Revolutme have both won their maidens and have earned their places in the final. I’m happy with both of them. They probably have to improve a bit to beat the higher rated horses, but they go into the race in very good form and I am looking forward to running them on Sunday.”

Nessa Joyce, Manager Irish EBF said; “this will be the sixth running of the Foran Equine Irish EBF final and the quality of the runners vying for a berth in the final is what stood out.  Of the sixteen declared runners, thirteen are already winners and the rest were all placed second, and when you see that the average auction purchase price of all the runners in the final is just €24,000, it tells a great story of the quality and value that is available at the yearling sales. This year also saw record prize-money of €727,500 on offer that was distributed between 94 individual owners and 49 individual trainers since June, we would like to thank everyone who supported the series and we are already looking forward to the 2021 running of the series.”

Gareth Connolly, Sales and Marketing Director, Foran Equine: “We are thrilled to see a full field for the Foran Equine Irish EBF Auction Series Final at Naas this Sunday. It is also fantastic to see the €30,000 Foran Equine Irish EBF Nursery Handicap being so well supported too.  During these unprecedented times, the series has continued to generate many positive opportunities and success stories for our customers. We are very grateful to the Irish EBF for being a fantastic partner and for their additional support through these difficult times. I would like to thank everyone who has supported the series, the owners, trainers, jockeys, breeders, racecourses and Horse Racing Ireland. We’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the hard working stable staff. As a thank you, there will be a draw before the final and one groom will win a mix of Connolly’s RED MILLS & Foran Equine merchandise in addition to a hamper of Carr & Day & Martin products to celebrate our recent acquisition.  We wish all the runners and connections on Sunday the very best of luck.”

Link to entries on HRI RAS site –