Rossdales Laboratories is a leading, internationally respected equine pathology laboratory, led by Dr Alastair Foote with support from our expert clinicians and a team of experienced laboratory technicians. But where did it all start?
The laboratory was first developed in the mid-1960s, when the practice moved to Beaufort Cottage Stables. Prior to this, haematological, biochemical, bacteriological and parasitological aids to diagnosis were usually performed at institute laboratories, such as the Equine Research Station. The setting up of a practice laboratory offered practical efficiency for diagnosing problems in the field and adding a service that was potentially available 24 hours a day.
In the early days, the technician on whom the practice laboratory relied was Margaret Powney, sister of Newmarket trainer John Powney. In 1968, Dr Leo Mahaffey, an eminent Australian pathologist, took over and developed the laboratory both as a practice aid and as a referral service for clients on a wider scale. After Leo’s death, Professor Sidney Ricketts further developed what had become known as Beaufort Cottage Laboratories, helping form the now recognised speciality of equine clinical pathology. Professor Ricketts managed the laboratory for 37 years, until his retirement from the partnership in 2012, when Alastair Foote became Managing Partner.
The laboratory has grown to become one of the largest and most internationally respected specialist equine diagnostic laboratories.
After more than 50 years in the existing laboratory, a £1.9 million investment has enabled expansion of our Newmarket site to accommodate a new laboratory and staff facilities. Work began in September 2019 and the lab team transferred into the new facilities in January 2020, providing a brand new reception and sample drop-off point, a newly refurbished building with an upgraded laboratory and air-handling facilities, a number of new cutting-edge analysers, and a new and improved car park. All of this, whilst remaining in the heart of Newmarket. In addition to all of this, we introduced a range of new diagnostic and surveillance tests.
The new laboratory was designed with future expansion in mind, but this began far sooner than we had anticipated. Following the sad closure of the AHT in July 2020, we undertook an additional expansion, working in collaboration with some of the former AHT diagnostic team. A dedicated virus isolation and tissue culture suite was completed in Spring 2021.
The laboratory technical staff has increased considerably over the years, with many long serving members of the team proving key to our success, and some valuable new team members, including in 2021 three former members of the AHT technical staff, taking the laboratory forward under its new identity, Rossdales Laboratories.
Continual investment in new technology, testing methods and training of our staff, coupled with providing a comprehensive, reliable service with quick turnaround times, will ensure that the laboratory maintains its position as a leader amongst equine diagnostic laboratories.