Stewards seek answers for positives
A SPATE of testosterone positives found in geldings around the state has led Racing NSW stewards on a search and discovery mission. Laboratories in France, Hong Kong and England have been sent samples gathered in recent months from racehorses around NSW.
”There has been a number of elevated testosterone results and it prompted Racing NSW to conduct a study on samples from hundreds of horses,” the chief steward, Ray Murrihy, said yesterday. ”That study is nearing completion. We hope to round up the study within the next couple of weeks.”
Testosterone is a steroid hormone commonly found in thoroughbreds, although geldings don’t produce anywhere near the levels in stallions.
”Obviously we are looking for factors other than synthetic administration that can impact upon testosterone levels,” Murrihy said. ”We’ve mainly done raceday population studies. We’ve taken samples from horses galloping between races and at barrier trials.”
New feed products and travel are being investigated as a means of increasing testosterone levels in the racehorse. Horses in country areas have been tested on arrival at racetracks after long journeys to the course, and also after competition.
”Currently a horse is positive under the Australian Rules of Racing if it measures a concentration of 20 micrograms per litre,” Murrihy said. ”Earlier studies conducted overseas, principally in Hong Kong have found levels in geldings averaging one to two micrograms per litre. No study of this scope has been attempted under Australian conditions. No conclusions have been reached at this stage.”
There is a feeling that racing authorities do not want to punish a licensed person when other factors may have influenced a thoroughbred returning elevated levels.
”There may well be a number of factors involved in regard to elevated testosterone levels,” Murrihy added.