Seven British racehorses now positive for morphine

Dried poppy seed pods and seeds.
Dried poppy seed pods and seeds. © Magnus Manske

Two further positive race-day tests for the prohibited substance morphine have been returned by British racehorses, bringing the total number of cases to seven.

The British Horseracing Authority says it will not make public any information regarding the identity of the horses, trainers or owners until a full investigation was completed.

However, it was disclosed by Buckingham Palace that one of the horses was the Queen’s racemare, Estimate.

All investigations to date have pointed to a contaminated ingredient supplied to British feed firm Dodson & Horrell. The contamination, by a naturally occurring prohibited substance (NOPS), is believed to have come from the seeds of opium poppies.

Another feed company, Allen & Page, has discovered contamination in raw material from the same supplier. The British Equestrian Trade Association, in an update, said there had been no positive test results in horses using Allen & Page products.

Potentially affected stocks had been identified and quarantined, but there was a small possibility that some of the ingredients were included in feed that reached the marketplace.

Levels are so low that there is no health risk to any horses.

The British Horseracing Authority said the “shared characteristics of these cases” meant it could not rule out further positive detections from post-race samples obtained in recent weeks.

“BHA are continuing to investigate any link between the individual cases and are working closely with the British Equine Trade Association, the National Trainers Federation and the trainers of the horses in question on this matter.

“Once all processes have been completed the cases will be put before the Disciplinary Panel who will consider the matters before deciding what action, if any, should be taken. This may include the disqualification of the horses in question from the relevant races.”


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