Another positive cobalt test in an Australian racehorse

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Another Australian trainer has had a racehorse return a cobalt test above the allowable threshold.

Randwick-based Kevin Moses has been advised that a urine sample taken from Felix Bay before he ran fifth in a 2000-metre race at Hawkesbury on April 16 tested above 200 micrograms per litre.

Stewards with Racing New South Wales are awaiting the results of testing on the B sample.

Cobalt is a trace element which has been shown to have performance-enhancing properties. It has a similar effect to erythropoietin (EPO) in stimulating production of red blood cells. This, in effect, lifts the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, hence boosting performance.

However, it has toxic effects. It can cause damage to the thyroid gland and can be toxic to the heart in excessive amounts. It can thicken the blood and increase the risk of heart attacks.

With cobalt being a naturally occurring substance, horses will ingest tiny amounts in their daily rations, thus the need for a threshold in race-related testing.

A statement posted on the Kevin Moses Racing website said the test on Felix Bay’s sample had shown a slightly elevated cobalt level.

“We would like to strongly assure each and every owner that we have never used cobalt or any other illegal substance.

“We are extremely shocked at this finding as we have never had an irregularity in 14 years of training.

“At this stage the stewards have been more than helpful and we have been working with Racing NSW’s veterinarian to understand how this has come about.

“It is possible that the slightly elevated level that was present in Felix Bay can occur through feed and vitamin supplements.

“As you are aware we always ensure our horses are well looked after and as such receive a regular vitamin programme. It is our understanding that tests are currently being carried out on the cobalt levels from feed and vitamin supplements.

“We know we have done nothing more than administer feed and vitamin supplements to our horses and we are distressed that one of our horses has gone slightly over the level that has been set.”

A growing list of Australian trainers have had horses test positive for cobalt.

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