The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) is campaigning to ensure the Government retains statutory funding for veterinary research, science and education when the Horserace Betting Levy Board is scrapped.

Chancellor George Osborne announced in his pre-election budget that a new body, the Horserace Betting Right, would replace the levy board, which since 2000 has provided more than £27m for equine research and education in the UK.

The levy board is funded by the bookmaking industry. The new betting right will also secure funding from off-shore gambling by selling the right to bet on horseracing, in a similar way to how musicians earn performing rights.

BEVA says while the anticipated increase in revenue generated by the new scheme is good news for racing in general, it wants to ensure the equine veterinary industry still receives the same level of funding.

The association says statutory funding has made the UK international leaders in improving the health and welfare of horses through advancements in veterinary science.

Historically, the funding has remained independent of the racing authority. BEVA president Andrew Harrison said it was essential the racing industry continued to repay the debt owed to the horse to maintain welfare and enhance understanding of equestrian science.

BEVA’s education committee chairman Tim Mair said British racing significantly beat the rest of the world with its contributions to veterinary science, six times more than in Australia, for example, where a horseracing betting right was already in operation.

“I am cautiously optimistic this new system will bring much needed funding into British racing, but it is essential that the future model includes a robust mechanism to ensure veterinary funding continues to be prioritised in the UK,” he said.

BEVA chief executive David Mountford there was considerable investment in infectious disease surveillance from racing.

This work is of benefit to all quarters of the equestrian world because viruses don’t distinguish between a racehorse and a pony,” he said.

“Any future cutbacks could affect the health of all horses and ponies in UK.”

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