Boost for vital ragwort research

The ILPH has donated £8,000 to help fund Dr Knottenbelt’s research into an early-warning blood test for horses that may have eaten ragwort, following recent concerns that lack of funding would bring his vital work to a halt. The fund has also received more than £7,000 from Horse & Hound readers.

Dr Derek Knottenbelt and his team at Liverpool University’s Equine Science Division have invested much time during the past five years towards developing a simple blood test to detect the presence of ragwort toxins in a horse’s blood.

HHO recently reported that, due to a lack of interest and funds, Dr Knottenbelt was planning to end his research.

Talking to HHO in April he said: “After nearly six years’ work, I am tired and very disappointed. I feel I have gone beyond the call of duty. If I don’t raise the money needed to carry on my work, I will take it as far as I can and then pull the plug on the whole thing.”

The generosity of Horse & Hound readers and the ILPH goes some way towards the £80,000 needed by October to ensure the research can continue.

ILPH chief executive John Smales says: “We could not let all the good work that Derek and his team have done over the last five years go to waste because of lack of funds to finish their project. Anything that can be done to stop horses dying unnecessarily from ragwort poisoning is to be applauded.”

Speaking about the generous donations, Derek Knottenbelt says: “The ILPH funding has been an absolute lifesaver — no question about it. It has given impetus to the whole project and encouraged me to drive forward again. I am now optimistic that we will achieve our objective.

“I would also like to thank the hundreds of people who have made anonymous donations.”

If you would like to make a donation please send a cheque, made payable to the University of Liverpool (Ragwort HH) to Dr D Knottenbelt, University of Liverpool, Leahurst, Neston, South Wirral CH64 7TE.

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