BHA Centre for Racehorse Studies

BHA Centre for Racehorse Studies (CRS) is a BHA-funded, Home Office licensed research facility for Thoroughbred racehorses based at the British Racing School in Newmarket.

It opened in 2011 and has produced significant amounts of internationally acclaimed research data informing Detection Times for therapeutic drugs and method development to underpin Anti-Doping strategy.

The research conducted is governed by law: the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and administered by the Home Office according to strict guidelines for the care and wellbeing of animals thus involved. The BHA staff who conduct the studies at CRS have all undergone Home Office training and have years of experience handling thoroughbreds.

CRS conducts scientific work which is peer-reviewed and subject to international scrutiny and is proud to be a signatory of the Concordat for Openness in Science., underpinning the Anti-Doping strategy of the BHA as the regulator of horse racing in Great Britain.

The studies are conducted under strict guidelines to generate robust data in sufficient horses to be statistically viable. Consideration for each and every study is given to the 3Rs – Reduction, Refinement and Replacement for animals in scientific research. In addition to the more direct input to maintaining the integrity of racing, CRS also looks to potential future threats, so that the laboratory (LGC Fordham) with whom we work closely is able to develop methods to keep abreast of current trends in other sports and jurisdictions which may eventually be seen in racing here.

We aim maintain a herd of research horses that meet the demographic of the racing population: All horses must be sound and able to undertake exercise as though they were in training, be tractable to handle and free of underlying clinical issues.

Studies fall into two categories, depending on the type of drug administered to the horses under controlled conditions:

Therapeutic drugs, as used in clinical practice for treatment of horses & Doping drugs, as used with the purpose of affecting performance. Samples generated during studies are analysed by LGC Fordham. The resultant data is then peer-reviewed for veracity by the considerable expertise of members of the European Horserace Scientific Liaison Committee (EHSLC ) collectively consisting of regulators, analysts and veterinarians from France, Ireland, GB, Germany, Italy and the Nordic countries.

The data may be used to generate Detection Times which are published on the EHSLC and BHA  websites and are used to provide information to racing vets and trainers when treating horses in their care. In addition, data is generated for method development for routine screening and analysis of samples, which is designed to pre-empt any future threat to the integrity of racing.

After their time with us, we rehome the horses via Racehorses: A life after racing based near Stamford in Lincolnshire.