New Specimen Process For Carbon Dioxide Testing On Raceday

Refusal will mean withdrawal

In order to safeguard the interests of all stakeholders, riders, and horses, the National Horseracing Authority will introduce a new specimen analysis procedure for TCO2 measurement on a race day.

While no media release was published, a notice issued on the regulator’s website on  Friday 15 March 2024 explains the move.

The TCO2 (total carbon dioxide) test is performed on the blood of racehorses as a means of combatting the practice of administering alkalizing agents for the purpose of enhancing performance.

The reasons for and the procedures that will be adopted are set out below.

Alkalinisation of a horse, or the use / administration of an alkalinising agent to a horse on race day, is prohibited.

National Horseracing Authority

Elevated pre-race blood TCO2 levels above the international threshold concentration of 36 mmol/L, determined and so formalised by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, regardless of cause, are violations of the IFHA and NHA Rules.

With immediate effect, the following SPECIMEN ANALYSIS and collection procedure for TCO2 MEASUREMENT will apply on race day:

  1. TRAINERS shall be notified of the HORSES selected for pre-race TCO2 sampling and ANALYSIS via the Notice of Pre-Race Blood Collection.
  2. A blood SPECIMEN shall be collected from each selected HORSE approximately 50 minutes prior to RACE time. Immediate ANALYSIS shall be performed using an NHA approved handheld blood gas analyser.
  3. Where such ANALYSIS shows that a HORSE has a TCO2 concentration of more than 35.0 mmol/L, a second blood SPECIMEN shall be collected, between 10 and 15 minutes later.
  4. If the TCO2 concentration of the second blood SPECIMEN is more than 36.0 mmol/L, the STEWARDS shall withdraw (scratch) the HORSE from the RACE and detain the HORSE for additional SPECIMEN collection.
  5. Under these circumstances, a third blood SPECIMEN shall be collected 30 minutes later. If the TCO2 concentration of this SPECIMEN is less than or equal to the international threshold of 36.0 mmol/L, no penalty shall be imposed on the TRAINER.
  6. The STEWARDS may, at their discretion, instruct a SPECIMEN COLLECTOR to subsequently collect SPECIMENS from the HORSE for analytical testing of all PROHIBITED SUBSTANCES.

As per Rule 75.3.2, if the taking of a SPECIMEN from that HORSE is refused by the TRAINER and/or the PERSON in control of such HORSE, then that HORSE shall be withdrawn from the RACE in question.

In the interests of horse welfare and racing integrity, the NHA may elect to additionally monitor the use of race day medication by means of pre- and post-race specimen collection of any horse presented to race.

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