Groundbreaking Scratching At Turffontein On Saturday

For the first time in South Africa, a horse was scratched from a race for elevated pre-race TC02 levels at Turffontein on Saturday when Prime Example was withdrawn before the running of Race 10.

Free stock - Vecteezy

A total of 55 horses were tested before they raced on Saturday at Turffontein and all, bar Prime Example in Race 10, were found to have blood TCO2 levels below the accepted published threshold of 36.0 mmol/L. The horse is trained by Tyrone Zackey.

While the NHA has been testing pre-race TCO2 levels in randomly selected runners on racedays for some time now, a new testing procedure was recently implemented by the NHA.

All stakeholders in the South African Raing Industry were notified of the new procedure and reminded of the accepted thresholds of TCO2 levels via a General Notice, on 15 March 2024, which can be viewed on our website.

The new procedure allows for the immediate analysis of any pre-race blood samples, before any of the horses from which the specimens are collected, participate in the races they have been carded to run in.

What does the new testing procedure entail?

Trainers will be officially notified, on racedays, as to which of their runners need to be presented for the collection pre-race blood specimens.

Should a Trainer refuse to allow a blood specimen to be taken, the horse in question will be scratched, as per Rule 75.3.2.

The blood specimen will be collected 50 minutes prior to the start of the race the horse is carded to run in, and it will be analysed immediately.

Should the analysis of the specimen show that the horse has a TCO2 concentration of more than 35.0 mmol/L, a second blood specimen will be collected, between 10 and 15 minutes later.

If the TCO2 concentration of the second blood specimen is more than 36.0 mmol/L, the Stewards will scratch the horse from the race it is carded to run in and detain that horse for additional specimen collection.

Under these circumstances, a third blood specimen will be collected 30 minutes later. If the TCO2 concentration of that third specimen is less than, or equal to, the international threshold of 36.0 mmol/L, no penalty shall be imposed on the Trainer.

The horse in question may also have further specimens taken for the full analytical testing of all Prohibited Substances.

free stock - Vecteezy

Why is the NHA doing instant pre-race blood tests for TC02 levels?

The pre-race administration of alkalinising agents before a race is of concern to racing authorities across the world, because the resulting alkalosis of the horse’s system may enhance performance and could interfere with the detection of any Prohibited Substances in post-race urine samples.

The pre-race administration of sodium bicarbonate to a horse running in a race is a practice widely known as “milkshaking”.

It is thought by some that giving this treatment, either by oral route or via a naso-gastric tube between 3 to 5 hours prior to a horse running in a race, that the horse’s performance may be enhanced, due to increasing the blood buffering capacity and enhancing the clearance of lactate from the muscles, delaying the onset of fatigue in a horse during strenuous activity.

The ingestion of sodium bicarbonate in the hours immediately prior to strenuous activity or vigorous exercise maintains blood pH, by acting as a buffer, thus preventing metabolic acidosis.

For this reason, the administration of sodium bicarbonate in the hours prior to racing, is generally viewed as performance enhancing.

The International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) has determined that the threshold limit for pre-race blood TCO2 levels is 36.0 mmol/L and anything above that, regardless of cause, will be a violation of both IFHA and NHA Rules.

Stewards Report regarding the scratching of the horse Prime Example: 

06 April 2024: Turffontein: Race 10: Scratched

a) PRIME EXAMPLE was selected for the taking of specimens (TCO2) testing.
The initial specimen, which was tested at 16H19, revealed a reading above 35 TCO2mmol/L. Trainer Zackey was interviewed and advised that, in terms of the Procedure for Total Carbon Dioxide (TCO2) analysis on Raceday, a second blood specimen would be taken and if this specimen confirmed a level of more than 36.0 mmol/L, PRIME EXAMPLE would be withdrawn from its race.

During the interval between Races 9 and 10, Trainer T Zackey was interviewed again and was informed that the second blood specimen had confirmed a level of above the international threshold of 36 mmol/L and that consequently PRIME EXAMPLE would be scratched from this race in terms of the provisions of Rules 72.1.23; 4.2.14 and 4.2.18.

  • Release by the NHA on Monday, 08 April 2024

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