Veterinary Protocols

The following is to be used as a guide for visiting international trainers only. All visiting trainers and staff should familiarise themselves with the Australian Rules of Racing and Local Rules of Racing which are available here.

Prohibited substances

Horses racing in New South Wales (NSW) are tested for the presence of “prohibited substances” through the routine collection of both pre-and post-race blood and urine samples.

A prohibited substance is considered to be any substance that is capable of acting directly or indirectly on any of the body systems, consistent with the model definition in Article 6 of the IFHA International Agreement (see Australian Rule of Racing AR178B). As well as race day testing for prohibited substances, out-of competition testing for non-therapeutic or illegal substances is also undertaken. A brief summary of the testing program is provided below.

It is the responsibility of trainers to be aware of the Rules of Racing relating to prohibited substances and to take all proper precautions to avoid breaching the Rules. Further information in relation to this advice is contained in the Australian Rules of Racing or by contacting Racing NSW Official Veterinarian Dr Craig Suann.

Testing for prohibited substances

Pre-Race Blood Testing

Horses competing at metropolitan Sydney tracks such as Royal Randwick and Rosehill are required to arrive on-course no later than 2 hours before their race starting time. Racing NSW Stewards select the majority of runners to be pre-race blood sampled on any race day. The samples which comprise 6 x 6ml blood tubes are collected by an official veterinarian after the horse arrives on-course, packaged and sealed on site, and forwarded to the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory (ARFL) for analysis. Blood samples are analysed for plasma TCO2 levels and for prohibited substances.

Post-Race Blood and Urine Testing

In the period immediately after a race, a urine sample is collected from all winners and a range of other horses at the discretion of the Stewards. All samples collected for post-race analysis are packaged and sealed and forwarded to ARFL where they are tested for the presence of prohibited substances.

Out-of-competition testing
Stewards accompanied by official veterinarians will visit racing stables unannounced to collect blood or urine samples to test for the presence of illicit performance affecting drugs during training. The substances targeted in out-of-competition testing are specified in AR.177B.

Veterinary treatments

It is possible that the detection times for medications applicable in Australia may be different to those used in other countries. In the first instance, you should consult with Racing NSW Veterinarian Dr Craig Suann regarding the use of any medications and physical treatments after arrival in Australia. Your local selected veterinary practitioner should also consult with Dr Suann regarding any treatments to a visiting horse after its arrival in Australia.

Trainers should use extreme caution when using long-acting veterinary drugs prior to departure for Australia, particularly corticosteroids, anabolic steroids and procaine penicillin. The use of anabolic steroids is totally banned in Australian thoroughbred racing. Racing NSW may, with the permission of the Stewards, provide a targeted, elective urine testing service for a specific long-acting medication that may have been administered to the horse prior to departure. However, it is not possible to provide a comprehensive ‘blanket’ analysis for all prohibited substances.

The Australian Rules of Racing require the compulsory recording of all medications administered to a horse, as well as the recording of certain physical treatments (AR.178F).

However it should be noted that no treatment of any kind may be administered to a horse prior to racing on the day of racing.

Controlled procedures

Under the Australian Rules of Racing, a number of procedures are restricted prior to racing.

These procedures include:
1. All injections are prohibited within one clear day prior to racing
2. Nasogastric Intubation – prohibited within one clear day prior to a race or trial (AR.64G)
3. The administration of alkalinising agents by any means (including naso-gastric intubation or addition to feed) – prohibited within one clear day of a race or trial (AR.178AA)
4. Extracorporeal shockwave treatment – prohibited within seven clear days prior to a race or trial (AR.64H)
5. Intra-articular administration of corticosteroids - prohibited within 8 clear days prior to a race or trial (AR.64M)

Recording veterinary treatments

AR.178F requires that all treatments administered to a racehorse must be recorded as specified in the rule. The treatment record book must be available for inspection by the Stewards at any time. A template for treatment recording can be downloaded here 
The types of treatments that must be recorded are listed in AR.178F(2).

It is a requirement under the Rules that any physical treatment such as shockwave therapy, laser therapy and infra-red therapy also be recorded.

Reporting veterinary conditions that may affect racing performance

AR.140 requires that trainers must report any condition that may affect, or may have affected a horse’s racing performance.

Any injury or medical problem encountered by a horse during its preparation leading up to a race must be notified to the Stewards.

AR.64C provides the authority for the Stewards to order a veterinary inspection of any horse that they may have reason to doubt its fitness to race.

Pre‐race veterinary inspections

Visiting horses will be the subject of official veterinary inspections in the lead-up to their race engagement(s). If your horse has any pre‐existing conditions or gait abnormalities that have been identified but do not affect the horse’s safety, welfare or racing performance, you should bring this condition to the attention of the Stewards and provide supporting evidence (such as a report from your stable veterinarian on the nature and current status of the abnormality) of the horse’s suitability to race, in order to avoid any last minute problems at the time of the inspection.

Private veterinary practitioners

Visiting trainers are free to make arrangements for a local equine practitioner of their choice to provide veterinary clinical services.
Racing NSW does not recommend or endorse any particular veterinarian or veterinary practice. However, you must notify Racing NSW of your preferred equine veterinary practitioner so that appropriate quarantine accreditation arrangements can be made. Only veterinarians issued with a Racing NSW permit will be able to provide veterinary services to visiting horses.

Farriery Services

AR.141A and AR.141B outline requirements and specifications for the shoeing of racehorses in NSW.
Contact details for local farriers in the Sydney region can be obtained from representatives of the Master Farriers Association of NSW, Kirk Nicholson (0418 276 532).