Positive morphine tests probably from contaminated feed – racing body

Poppy seeds are thought to be at the root of a feed contamination issue in Britain. ©
Poppy seeds are thought to be at the root of a feed contamination issue in Britain. © Odedr

Contaminated horse feed appears to be behind a cluster of positive morphine tests in racehorses, according to British racing authorities.

The British Horseracing Authority has provided an update on its inquiry following the positive tests in horses, including the Queen’s highly rated mare, Estimate.

The authority said it had completed initial inquiries, describing the circumstances in all but one of the cases as very similar.

Its investigations pointed to the source of the positive test being contaminated feed, it said.

The authority said the plan at this stage was for all the cases to be heard together by its Disciplinary Panel.

In the other case, involving a yard with only one positive sample, while the evidence was also suggestive of contaminated feed, differences in the circumstances meant that the case would be heard separately.

It said it was awaiting test results on two outstanding B samples.

In all, there have been eight positive tests.

The authority said in a statement: “At the hearings, the Disciplinary Panel will be presented with the circumstances pertaining to each horse and they will decide what course of action should be taken.

“If the panel find that the source of the positives was contaminated feed, BHA’s position will be that where the trainer has taken all reasonable precautions to safeguard against a positive test, no penalty should be imposed on the trainer.

“However, according to the Rules of Racing, the horses involved should be disqualified.”

British feed firm Dodson & Horrell confirmed late in July that it had launched an investigation, focused on possible component contamination affecting a product called Alfalfa Oil Plus.

It said a thorough investigation was taking place with the supplier of the component to assess how any contamination may have occurred.

“Preliminary investigations suggest that any contamination of this component product did not occur at Dodson & Horrell’s site,” the company said.

It recalled batch numbers week 20-28 of Alfalfa Oil Plus as a precautionary measure.

“From information currently available to us, it appears that any contamination may have come from poppy seeds that occur naturally in the environment,” it said at the time.

It said naturally occurring prohibited substances, known as Nops, were either naturally present within certain feed ingredients or occur as a result of inadvertent cross-contamination during processing, transport or storage.

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