Cobalt in racing, currently in the news

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There's been quite a stir in racing circles this week as a few cases of contravention of very strict limits on cobalt in bloods have come to light.
I used to work in racing about twenty years ago, and I know some trainers used to use vitamin B injection the day before racing, on certain horses, not all horses.
I don't think they realised the cobalt was performance enhancing, it was a tonic, like RedCell supplement. I've seen several vets use this method as a pick-me-up for horses in poor condition.
Its very unfortunate that some trainers have tried to give injections on race day, a direct contravention of a Racing Regulation, it brings racing in to disrepute.
 

EKW

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Some are stupid and give it on race day and claim ignorance. That doesn't wash in this day and age when you know withdrawal periods for everything under the sun.

Some have cocked up with their timings and it hasn't left the system as quickly as they thought it would - every horses metabolism is different.

Then you had Scobie who voluntarily tested one of his horses after it had some joints medicated. He knew he was cutting it fine for racing and yeah, it tested positive so he didn't run the horse even though by the BHA's withdrawal period time the horse should have been fine. Thumbs up to him for dealing with it before the race so it didn't come to light after and cause even more uproar!
 
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I think we are getting mixed up between prescription medications, which are tested for withdrawal times, and the over the counter "tonic"
The BHA instructions are clear, only normal food to be fed on race day, I read that as no supplements no medications..
 

EKW

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Yes there's no race day medications etc but the cobalt is tracable at a higher level for a couple of days, so even then you are taking a risk let alone doing it on race day itself. Some people really are Muppets!

Though I see the companies that made the supplements and salt licks that were the cause of the high levels have taken it out of their products now.
 
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Yes, what I am saying here is that numerous supplements and also B12 injections have been used for years without any thought that they were contravening any rules.
Its just that testing nowadays is so precise, and so widespread that supplement manufacturers and horse feed manufacturers either have to withdraw the supplement, or have extensive and expensive testing carried out.
Sometimes feed gets contaminated from one batch of feed for breeding stock/youngsters, which is high in minerals not intended for race horses in training. Mistakes get made, in the factory or on the training premises.
Not all contraventions are are picked up, but ultimately a registered racehorse trainer has to be extremely careful. Penalties are draconian, and reputations are at risk.
 

popsdosh

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Yes, what I am saying here is that numerous supplements and also B12 injections have been used for years without any thought that they were contravening any rules.
Its just that testing nowadays is so precise, and so widespread that supplement manufacturers and horse feed manufacturers either have to withdraw the supplement, or have extensive and expensive testing carried out.
Sometimes feed gets contaminated from one batch of feed for breeding stock/youngsters, which is high in minerals not intended for race horses in training. Mistakes get made, in the factory or on the training premises.
Not all contraventions are are picked up, but ultimately a registered racehorse trainer has to be extremely careful. Penalties are draconian, and reputations are at risk.
That assumes that they were naive enough to not know they were breaking the rules ;);)
It is feasible they didnt think they would get caught. Thats why the rule is worded as it is. IE any thing is banned that may influence the horse as a stimulant or indeed a suppressant however administered detectable or not.
So even if not detected it is a contravention if found out.
 
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That assumes that they were naive enough to not know they were breaking the rules ;);)
It is feasible they didnt think they would get caught. Thats why the rule is worded as it is. IE any thing is banned that may influence the horse as a stimulant or indeed a suppressant however administered detectable or not.
So even if not detected it is a contravention if found out.
 
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That is not the point I was making at all, what I am saying is that for years trainers have used all sorts of supplements, and injections, just as practically every horse owner does, from pony mad kiddie to professional trainer;
It's not possible to test every single morsel that passses into the system., for example hay and grazing will contain herbs, herbs probably contain prohibited substances if concentrated.
I think one prohibited substance is Testosterone, but some horses produce "un natural levels" all by themselves!
Giving a B12 injection was never seen as performance enhancing for years, it was just a pick me up. Only recently has Cobalt been picked up as a performance enhancer, and the B12 injection,identified as a common method of introduction of cobalt. Of course cobalt is trace mineral and is needed in for any horse it s just a matter of when too much is performance enhancing.
 
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In fact, I used to work for a trainer who had success with "bleeders", he must have been giving them something, he was on the extreme bandwith for supplements of all shapes and sizes, but if his remedies were legal [which they were], and also prevented "bleeding", which distresses the horse, then one can argue that it was a welfare issue not to provide "the remedy"
I used to have a horse [hunter] with wind problems and he got Harvey's Aconite Powders" during the season, aconite is a poison I suppose, its a wild flower which grows in the UK. The vet also gave him a cough mixture which contained cocaine, perfectly legal for a hunter.
A generation ago most showing beef bulls got a pinch of arsenic in their feed, it helped glossy coat, and no one eats cattle coat.
 
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But as the Rules stood at the time they were not contravening them, because eg cobalt was not defined as performance enhancing. The trainer relies to a greater or lesser extent on his vet who knows the Rules.
I know trainers who attribute their success to oats, sugar beet and black treacle, none of these things are tested for prohibited substances.
I used to work for a trainer who insisted his horses got a small packet of mints, [not Trebor] when they went racing, these were not on the prohibited list. Are they enhancing to performance?
 

popsdosh

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B12 in itself would be rule breaking as it increases pain thresholds and is anti inflammatory to a degree (similar to bute).
Also it helps with red cell production which is also performance enhancing as the horse can take on more blood oxygen than it naturally could. A bit like blood doping !!!! so its all degrees of the same thing.
I repeat it does not need to be on a prohibitive list to be illegal to use in racing ,just the intent of gaining advantage by using it makes it illegal. Or are you trying to make out that all these horses being given B12 injections on the day of races were suddenly found to be deficient :eek::eek:
 
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So you are saying that all the vets who prescribe B12 injection to performance horses are culpable?
I've been asked by my doctor to take iron tablets, because I am anaemic, is that performance enhancing, I have distress at the moment cos my heart is working overtime to sort my physiology.
Athletes are allowed to use inhalers if they have asthma, is that not performance enhancing?
 

popsdosh

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Have you seen the issues that are created by athletes being given dispensation to use inhalers( think team SKY). We are led to believe that a much higher proportion of athletes suffer with asthma than the proportion in the general population something I find very hard to believe. Would there be such a demand for TUEs if it wasnt helping something
A Vet does not . have to prescribe or administer B12 as it is classified POM-VPS and can be picked up off the shelf at any store that stocks animal medicines, this is the issue many are just administering it off their own back with no input from vets or indeed a test. It is cheating if they are being administered to enhance the horses ability to perform ,there is no other way of hiding that fact.
 

EKW

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As for testosterone levels - we have a rig in the yard. He has his levels tested every so often, he has had them tested at the races previously and probably will again when we next run him. Every time he finds himself in the dope box they will be tested as well as periodically so we know what is the norm for him both at home and on race days.
 

EKW

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You can jump race entires too but it is rare. The boys become too protective of their crown jewels and jump too carefully. Our lad is a genuine rig and to be fair he is well behaved but very much built like a bull.
 
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Yes, I know, I just opened the subject for general discussion as it in the news on the RP site today.
I'm just saying things have changed, testing has changed, rules change regularly, and a trainer has a huge amount of paperwork to deal with. Most top trainers will use a specialist vet to treat all their horses with everything, and oversee the medication book, so he can assess risk etc, and have a detailed record of every horse in the yard. A lot of vets are attached to or employed by yards, its not an easy job
It makes sense. It's a huge job in any big yard these days. Records are kept meticulously. Trainers don;t want trouble.
The best way to win races is to enter your horse in a race he might win, not give him something which might cause him to lose after testing.
 
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