Page 66 - Rooftops Summer 2019
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                 When we enjoy a day out at the races, many of the key participants are very obvious. The horses, of course, are the main players and we soon become aware of others, including the jockeys in their colourful silks; the trainers giving last minute instructions; the owners, immaculately turned out and pacing nervously in the parade ring; and the bookmakers ‘shouting the odds’ to hopeful punters.
Less noticeable are the many others whose input is essential to ensure a safe and successful day’s racing. These include the vets who attend every race meeting and ensure that the welfare of the horses involved is protected and enhanced.
It may not be widely known that veterinary cover at British race meetings is divided into two separate areas of responsibility. At every meeting, there is at least one veterinary officer, employed by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), whose key role is to ensure that the regulatory standards and rules are adhered to. This includes taking drug-testing samples from a selection of the runners to ensure that they are not racing under the effects of medication or substances that can affect their performance.
Every course also appoints racecourse veterinary surgeons, who are on duty throughout the day to deal with any incidences of injury or illness. At the two racecourses in Newmarket, these services are provided by the internationally renowned Newmarket Equine Hospital.
This centre of veterinary excellence, whose origins go back to just after the First World War, has been through a number of name changes, reflecting the senior partners of the time. However, in 2009, it re- branded as Newmarket Equine Hospital (NEH) and in May it will be celebrating a 10-year anniversary in its spacious premises adjacent to the July Course.
On race days, two of the 40-strong team of NEH vets will be at the racecourse from one hour before racing starts until 30 minutes after the last race. Their duties include assessing the wellbeing of the
Recognition for
the race day team
you don’t see
With the racing season well underway, Jan Wade looks at the work of Newmarket’s Equine Hospital
horses competing, supporting the BHA Veterinary Officers, attending to any injuries and, occasionally, dealing with emergency situations on the racetrack or surrounding areas. After a race, the vets may be asked by a trainer to perform endoscopy on a particular horse. This involves passing a small camera into the airways to check whether a previously unidentified respiratory problem could be a cause of poor performance.
Thankfully, as a result of the combined efforts of horseracing authorities, the racecourses, trainers and vets, the number of major injuries at race meetings has decreased considerably. However it is essential that, when casualties do occur, experienced veterinary help is available immediately because the vets often need to make quick decisions under pressure.

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