Director's Message


Introduction
 The common mission of horseracing circles in Japan is to improve the disposition of racehorses and provide quality horseracing for fans, while supplying a succession of Thoroughbred racehorses that can compete on an equal footing with top-flight overseas horses in international racing. Thus, we have narrowed our focus from research that addressed broad-ranging needs, to research on sports science, sports injuries and infectious diseases affecting racehorses.

Sports Science Research
 We are currently developing a system of research whereby the results can be obtained and disseminated quickly in the field. In particular, there is an increasing need to introduce scientific techniques for improving performance of racehorses and maintaining their conditions. As a specific initiative to this end, in 2003 we obtained the results from the first phase of the research project entitled "Establishment and application of performance-test system for racehorses". the Sport Science Research Center, Racehorse Clinics and the Hidaka Training Farm are combining efforts in pursuit of this research. Through this project, we have succeeded to obtain precious data on the physiological functions of several elite Thoroughbred racehorses during training. Next year of 2004, the second phase of this project will be started and we plan to establish a method of performance test using a treadmill, and to establish a system of judging the physical condition of racehorses in conjunction with the research data arising from this. Also, as a means of applying the results of this research to racehorses, we need to train veterinarians as sports vets at racehorse clinics. We are also creating a training program for vets to this end of this project. The ultimate aim of this project is to establish a system whereby sports vets with expert skills and knowledge of sports science can provide appropriate information and suitable advice to the public, stable-related personnel and the researchers concerning the condition and/or performance of racehorses.

Sports Injuries Therapy
 The Racehorse Rehabilitation Center in collaboration with the Sports Science Research Center and the Racehorse Clinics at Training Centers, conducts research on rehabilitation for racehorses, with the aim of assisting their speedy recovery from racing injuries. Thoroughbred racehorses can not avoid accidents during racing and training. In particular, locomotive disorders, such as, leg fractures and tendinitis ask the affected horses to take a long term rest for returning to racing.
 The Racehorse Rehabilitation Center has a long history of a rehabilitation facilitity for racehorses by taking advantage of hot spring as a famous natural resources in this location. In the past, many knowm racehorses, which had returned to racing after their recuperating at this center, became winners of the classic and G1 races. This partly explains why the Center and the therapy connected with rehabilitation are so well supported by stable-related personnel. 

Infectious Disease Research
 At the Tochigi Branch, the principal focus of our research has always been equine infectious diseases that effect race meetings and international exchanges, as well as the surveillance and prevention of infectious diseases in breeding areas. The results obtained here are reflected in JRAs smooth operation of horseracing and in national epidemic control via the Liaison Council for the Prevention and Control of Equine Infectious Diseases. The council includes representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and national laboratories related on equine infections, as well as the Tochigi Branch itself.
 We are currently promoting "Research on the development of live vaccine for equine rhinopneumonitis using advanced technology". The aim of this work is to develop a live vaccine which will offer greater protection than existing vaccines.
 Apart from this, we are conducting large-scale field application tests on the PCR method with a view to eradicating contagious equine metritis from breeding areas. We are also working to promote, the development of diagnostic methods for equine piroplasmosis, equine protozoal myeloencephalitis, West Nile virus infection, and other overseas infectious diseases.

Breeding and Training Research
 In addition to the above two branches, the Breeding & Training Research Center was set up at the Hidaka Training Farm in 1998. In this center, we study training methods and management of young horses, and are striving to solve research problems affecting breeding and training. In addition, as part of the above mentioned research project "Establishment and application of a performance test system for racehorses", we are studying the development of physiological functions in yearling horses during growth and training.

Collaborative Research and Other Outreach
 Our work also includes commissioned research or joint research conducted efficiently in collaboration with universities and national laboratories. Meanwhile, we have launched a web site on the Internet, which has led to numerous requests for information from Japan and abroad. In addition to responding to these requests, we also disseminate widely our research outcomes and provide scientific information to horseracing fans and anyone else with an interest in horses.