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It’s now pos­si­ble to pre­dict whether a race­horse with a ten­don in­jury will make a suc­cess­ful re­turn to rac­ing, say re­searchers. The team — a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the Uni­ver­sity of Not­ting­ham, Oakham Equine Hos­pi­tal and the Hong Kong Jockey Club — have de­vel­oped a scor­ing sys­tem for su­per­fi­cial dig­i­tal flexor ten­don (SDFT) in­juries. Re­searchers stud­ied ul­tra­sound changes in 469 race­horses when ten­don in­juries first oc­curred. This al­lowed the team to de­velop a scor­ing sys­tem to grade the sever­ity of the in­jury and pre­dict whether a horse will re­turn to rac­ing. “SDFT in­juries have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact — both eco­nom­i­cally and to the wel­fare of the horse,” says Dr Rafael Al­zola, who au­thored the pa­per. “The scor­ing sys­tem means quicker de­ci­sions can be made about whether or not a horse should be re­ha­bil­i­tated for rac­ing, choose a dif­fer­ent ca­reer or be re­tired.” The sys­tem is al­ready be­ing used in vet­eri­nary prac­tice, with vets able to down­load an app based on the scor­ing sys­tem.

A new scor­ing sys­tem can help pre­dict if race­horses will make a suc­cess­ful re­turn to the gallops

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