Racing towards a better test 20 Jan 2012

More than 650,000 horses are involved in equestrian events, thoroughbred and harness racing in Australia each year. If one of these horses wins an event or race and there are banned substances in their system, even if it was for treatment of an injury or illness, the horse could be disqualified.

These unfortunate disqualifications may soon be a thing of the past with the release of a new report by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), which will assist horse owners, trainers and vets to make better informed decisions about how long the substances take to leave a horse’s system. The report includes the most up-to-date, highest quality and thoroughly tested scientific data about the excretion times for therapeutic drugs.

The RIRDC report, The Pharmacokinetics of Equine Medications, launched today by CEO of Racing NSW, Peter V’Landys, contains detailed studies on the excretion times for twelve therapeutic drugs commonly used in the horse industry.

“The four year research study involving a number of Australian racing laboratories and universities looked at the excretion rates of therapeutic substances identified as the most important ones used in horses. This Australian study is one of the most comprehensive of its kind in the world,” said Roger Lavelle, President of the Australian Horse Industry Council.

“The outcome of this research will be a marked improvement on the currently available information about excretion times of the drugs which is based on very limited data, sometimes obtained from only one or two horses. This study tested each of the drugs on twelve horses, allowing for variation among horses in the excretion times for drugs.

“The project has involved widespread industry consultation as well as significant financial contributions. A reference group made up of key people from the horse industry were involved in determining which drugs were tested, according to the most urgent needs and demands of veterinarians.

“The findings are now being examined by the National Equine Welfare and Integrity Advisory Group, who will conduct a thorough review of the current reporting levels and detection times in Australia on behalf of our own regulators. The researchers are also consulting with the Asian and European Racing Authorities to inform screening limits overseas and help harmonise detection systems around the world.”

Another report will be released later this year containing results of another six therapeutic substances.

The Pharmacokinetics of Equine Medications is available for free download or purchase from the RIRDC website

Media enquiries:
Damon Whittock – RIRDC Public Affairs Manager – 02 6271 4175 or 0458 215 604
Professor Martin Sillence – Research co-ordinator, Queensland University of Technology – 07 3138 2565
Roger Lavelle – President Australian Horse Industry Council – 03 5429 1682