Why do you think North American
horsemen have been buying horses from Australia and New Zealand by the plane load for years?
Partly it’s because you have a horse
population shortage in many areas and
that would be a logical reason.
Partly it’s because the dollar exchange
rate (up until recently) had always worked
very nicely in the buyer’s favour and that
would be a good reason also.
And perhaps part of the reason is
that maybe, just maybe, it’s because they
know only too well that those Aussie and
Kiwi horses will get to their land having
spent their entire racing life drug free.
That’s right – drug free. Australian and New Zealand racing is conducted under a zero tolerance drug policy.
Not for one second am I suggesting
North American trainers are ‘chemists”,
far from it. What I am suggesting is they are smart enough, and have the legal drug-related means to improve horses with problems.
As we move into a new calendar year
that zero tolerance policy will neither
change, be reviewed, or questioned by
racing’s administrators or participants.
| Now this may appear somewhat
incredulous, even naïve to many in North
America, but that is the ‘no-exception’
rule, steadfastly adhered to, and policed.
Not even bleeders are given any
To many here that is viewed as ridiculous, as too is the two-bleed rule that
results in offenders banned from racing
Yes, that is correct. The first time a horse bleeds externally from both nostrils it is suspended (mandatory) from racing for three months.
The second time that same horse
bleeds externally from both nostrils, it is
banned from all racing for life.
Considering many highly respected
veterinary research projects have suggested up to 75 per cent of all racehorses bleed from the lungs at some stage in their lives, these rules do seem harsh; some say stupid.
There are those who say trainers
should be permitted to use furosemide
(Lasix) for bleeders, and yet for every one who advocates that, there are five who say this drug helps more than just bleeders. For all that, the bottom line is that the drug is banned; that is the way it is here.
Zero tolerance means zero tolerance.
Drug free racing means exactly what it
You cannot treat a horse with steroids,
painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs
or antibiotics if they will appear, even in
minute amounts, in post-race swabs.
It wasn’t always like this.
Some 25 years ago trainers worked
on ‘notification’ forms of drug treatments,
which informed stewards what treatments had been administered and when.
These forms had to be given to stewards
before a race meeting.
This system always caused problems,
many of them obvious, particularly when
positive swabs surfaced. It became a
case of one person’s word against the
Back then, administrators in both the
Thoroughbred and harness racing industries were faced with several options.
Do they ban everything and put the
onus back on the horsemen and women,
or do they allow some drugs, but not
It was unanimously decided they
would adopt the former, and to this day
there has been no change to the policy,
nor does it appear there will be in the