Queen’s Horse Disqualified

BHA Takes Hard Line

HRH Queen Elizabeth’s filly Estimate, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, finished second in the 2014 running of the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in June.  Shortly after, it was announced that Estimate, along with 7 other horses, had tested positive for morphine after eating contaminated feed.  The BHA has concluded its hearing against seven of the eight horses and on Thursday, 25 September announced that the Queen’s filly has been disqualified and stripped of the £80,625 prize-money for her June Gold Cup effort.

As a result of Estimate’s Gold Cup disqualification, Missunited has been promoted to second, Brown Panther third and Simenon fourth.

Estimate’s stablemate Russian Realm was also disqualified from the Buckingham Palace Stakes where he finished unplaced.

The other five horses, trained by Barry Hills, his son Charlie, Gay Kelleway and Tony Carroll, were disqualified from their respective races at the hearing on Thursday, though no penalties were brought against the trainers, with a contaminated batch of feed accepted as the reason behind the positive tests.

UK racing was rocked by the positive samples earlier this year, with the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Estimate the most high-profile horse involved. Although it is not known if connections will pursue compensation from feed suppliers Dodson & Horrell, Barry Hills confirmed he would be seeking reparations for his two disqualified winners, Soul Intent and Jolly Red Jeanz.  Speaking in Thursday’s Racing Post he said: “I’m sure there has been nothing deliberate in any of this, but trainers must look after their owners and therefore I expect we’ll all be seeking compensation on their behalf.”

Gay Kelleway has also revealed that she will be seeking damages from the feed merchant following the positive test from her Yarmouth winner Royal Alcor.

A separate case is to be heard on 16 October 2014 for Eve Johnson Houghton, the other trainer who had a runner test positive for morphine. Her case is being heard in isolation as she did not use the Dodson & Horrell product Alfalfa Oil Plus, which was found to be the source of the contamination in the other cases.

Confirming those findings, a BHA statement read: “The panel accepted that both substances [morphine and oripavine] originated from the opium poppy; the presence of oripavine being indicative that the morphine was of plant origin.”

“Dodson & Horrell Limited, the manufacturer of Alfalfa Oil Plus which was identified as the source of the morphine, confirmed that a component product used in the production of Alfalfa Oil Plus had been contaminated by poppy seeds which are naturally occurring sources of morphine and oripavine.”

“The panel therefore was satisfied that the source of the prohibited substances was a batch of feed supplement, Alfalfa Oil Plus, manufactured by Dodson & Horrell Limited.”

Jamie Stier, director of raceday operations and regulation for the BHA, added: “It was BHA’s position in the hearing that the source of the positive samples for morphine and oripavine was a contaminated batch of feed and that in the circumstances the trainers took all reasonable precautions to avoid breaching the rules of racing.”

“As such BHA submitted that no penalty should be imposed on the trainers, however, in accordance with the rules of racing, the horses involved should be disqualified from the relevant races. The disciplinary panel today agreed this position.”

“The administration of the substance was accidental and no fault of those connected to the horse but, while it is unfortunate for those involved, no other approach would be acceptable when the cornerstone of our policy is ensuring a level playing field for all participants.”

“Instances of feed batches becoming contaminated are, thankfully, very rare. It has been an unfortunate situation for those involved, especially the connections of all the horses affected. BHA has worked with the trainers and NTF throughout, as well as the feed manufacturers and their representative body the British Equine Trade Association (BETA) to control and manage the consequences of this contamination as best as possible.”

One commentator noted, “If Dick Francis had written a thriller based on the disqualification of the Queen’s Gold Cup winner after testing positive for drugs, it would have been rejected by his publisher as too fanciful.”

(source:  Racing Post)

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