Day At The Track

Notice to Trainers - Prohibited Substances

04:25 PM 22 Jan 2018 NZDT
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Prohibited Substances
Prohibited Substances

As a result of continued instances where horses are presented to race with cobalt and arsenic levels above the respective allowable thresholds, trainers are once again reminded of their obligations under the Australian Harness Racing Rules (AHRR) to present a horse to race free of prohibited substances.

Trainers should ensure that their husbandry, supplementation and/or feeding practices do not bring about a breach of the rules. If trainers have a concern about their husbandry regime bringing about a contravention, notably in relation to the substances discussed below, they should consult their vet or the Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Integrity Department on 8378 0200.

Trainers are further reminded that under AHRR 190(4) that an offence is committed if a horse is presented with a prohibited substance in its system, regardless of the circumstances in which the prohibited substance came to be present in or on the horse. 


The presence of cobalt above a level of 100 µg/L in a raceday equine urine sample or 25 µg/L in a raceday equine blood sample, is a prohibited substance.

Cobalt is a naturally occurring and essential trace element required for normal physiological functions. It is present in the horse’s normal diet and is present in small quantities in a number of oral and injectable vitamin and mineral substances administered to horses.

Substances that contain cobalt include, but are not limited to, VAM, Tripart, Tri-Cal, Electropaste, Availa-4 and Vitamin B Complex.

Action may be taken against trainers (or other persons) where evidence suggests the misuse of the substance cobalt.

The threshold ensures that the legitimate use of routine products containing small quantities of cobalt will not result in action being taken against trainers (or other persons) under the AHRR.


The presence of arsenic above a concentration of 0.30 micrograms per millilitre (µg/mL) in a raceday equine urine sample is a prohibited substance. 

Products that contain arsenic include, but are not limited to, Ferrocyl, Jurocyl, and Invigorate injections. It is claimed the use of these injectable preparations on horses may improve appetite and the appearance of the coat, and may aid in the treatment of anaemia or general weakness. However, there is no rational evidence-based indication for the use of arsenic in horses. Arsenic containing substances are not routinely used nor recommended as treatment for any medical condition in horses.

Arsenic is an element that naturally occurs in the environment in very small amounts in rocks, soil, water, air (from volcanic eruptions) and plants. Therefore horses, like all species, may normally inhale or ingest very small amounts of arsenic.

Arsenic is used in the production of pesticides and herbicides, although these applications are declining. Use of arsenic containing insecticides for management of cattle tick and lice problems in sheep was banned in 1987 yet soil around the site where the ‘dip’ once was on farms may remain contaminated with arsenic for many years. Arsenic is still used as chromated copper arsenate (CCA) and arsenic trioxide for its insecticidal properties to treat timber (ie. to prevent termite damage). This can give treated timber such as pine posts a greenish tint.

During investigations into recent arsenic irregularities reported by Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL), HRV in company with other racing authorities and RASL engaged the University of Melbourne to conduct a trial to research the levels of arsenic in horses that had ingested a known amount of CCA treated timber sawdust. This administration resulted in urinary concentrations of arsenic that exceeded the threshold concentration in some of the horses.

Therefore, it may be possible that a horse could have a urinary level of arsenic that exceeds the threshold concentration if it chews and ingests a sufficiently large quantity of CCA treated timber. With this aspect of the research completed, trainers are placed on notice that an explanation of environmental contamination (through CCA timber or other means) will not necessarily be considered a significant penalty mitigating factor for anyone found to have presented a horse with urinary concentrations above the arsenic threshold in the future. Trainers are advised to take measures to ensure that racing horses do not have access to environmental sources of arsenic including treated timber products.

Harness Racing Victoria

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