THE DETECTION AND PROSECUTION OF COBALT USE
IN THE HORSE
Cobalt is naturally found in all animals and animal feed and is considered an essential dietary trace element and micronutrient. Cobalt deficiency is not observed in horses in the wild and the normal diet of horses in combination with the usual prescribed vitamin supplementation should supply the horse with sufficient cobalt for its well-being and health. Cobalt is classed as a ’heavy metal’ and is a structural component of vitamin B12 (cobalamin). This vitamin is involved in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system and in the final stages of red blood cell formation and maturation. All of cobalt’s potential physiological effects in the horse have not yet been determined; however, high doses can present severe toxic effects and be very detrimental to the health of the horse.
Evidence suggests that cobalt preparations are being used inappropriately in racehorses in some racing jurisdictions. As cobalt is naturally present in equine biological samples such as blood and urine, it was decided that the introduction of an international threshold for cobalt will be necessary to facilitate the control of misuse in racehorses.
Trainers are advised that the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) has set an international threshold of 0.1 microgram per millilitre cobalt in horse urine. The NHA, as a signatory country of the IFHA, has now adopted this threshold in its rules. This decision was made following a survey which showed that natural levels of cobalt in racehorses within South Africa correspond to those observed in other countries and that the threshold can be applied to the local population. In future any finding of cobalt above this international threshold will be a Class 3 offence.
A large range of registered oral and injectable veterinary supplements which contain vitamin B12 (cobalamin) are available for use in the horse. The administration of any of these could give rise to an elevation of total cobalt levels in blood and urine.
It is recommended that supplemental cobalt from any source, including registered cobalt containing supplements and vitamin B12 (cobalamin), not be administered to the horse within at least two full days prior to race day. Higher doses than those indicated by the product and also repeated administrations may require longer elimination periods. Note that reliance on and use of this guidance does not absolve or diminish a trainer or owner from being responsible for ensuring that the horse complies with the rules relating to the presence of drugs and prohibited substances when presenting a horse.
AMENDMENT TO THE GUIDELINES
FOR CLASSIFICATION OF PROHIBITED SUBSTANCES
At a meeting of the National Board held on 30 July 2015, it was agreed that the Guidelines for Classification of Prohibited Substances would be amended by the addition of the following substance classifications:
CARBON DIOXIDE (Total available Carbon Dioxide)
Accordingly, Carbon Dioxide is classified as a Class 2 substance, a substance which has an obvious effect on a horse. The internationally agreed threshold / concentration applied by the NHA for Carbon Dioxide is 36 millimoles available Carbon Dioxide per litre in plasma.
Cobalt is classified as a Class 3 substance, a substance which has the potential to affect the performance of the horse. The internationally agreed threshold / concentration applied by the NHA for Cobalt is 0.1 microgram total cobalt per millilitre in urine.
African Horsesickness Vaccinations
Please note that the African Horsesickness Vaccination Scedule has been amended with immediate effect. All foals must be vaccinated against African Horsesickness two times between the ages of 6 and 18 months. These vaccinations must not be less than 30 days apart. (Previously, the two vaccinations were not to be less than 90 days apart.)
Special General Meeting
A Special General Meeting of Members took place on 20 April 2016 for the purpose of discussion and voting on the proposed amendments to the Constitution of the NHA.
All members, those present at the meeting and those who submitted a proxy, voted in favour of amending the Constitution as was proposed.
At the centre of the changes to the Constitution is the change to the composition of the National Board. Going forward, the Racing Operators, the Owners’ Associations and the Thoroughbred Breeders Association will no longer be entitled to nominate persons to be Directors. The number of Directors serving on the National Board will therefore be reduced to 9 persons. These will be :
- 5 persons who are Members in good standing. Trainers, Assistant Trainers, Stable Employees, Jockeys and Apprentice Jockeys may, however, not be Directors;
- 2 Independent persons;
- The Managing Director (previously known as the Chief Executive) and the Racing Control Executive.
The Directors will all be appointed by a Nominations Committee which must now be established. The Nominations Committee will consist of at least 4 persons who previously served as a Chairperson of the NHA. So, in future, there will no longer be any elections to elect Directors.
In the meantime, the Directors who were elected in terms of the Constitution prior to the amendments will remain on the National Board for the remainder of their respective terms. At the end of their respective terms they will resign but will be eligible for re-appointment by the Nominations Committee.
The National Board Directors are:
Mr Andrew O’Connor (Chairman)
Mr Cecil Beyleveld
Mr J J du Toit
Mr Roy Moodley
Mr Rodney Trotter
Mr Ken Truter
Mr Jonathan Witts-Hewinson
An objective of the Nominations Committee is to ensure that the Board has persons with the necessary knowledge and skills not only to understand the needs of all stakeholders, but also to act in the best interests of the racing industry.
The restructuring is not intended to reduce interaction or discussion between the NHA and the rest of the industry.
It is hoped that the changes will result in a National Board which is more effective and efficient and which will enable constructive debate, uninhibited by any conflict of interest.
AHS RELATED DEATH RESULTS CONTAINED HORSE MOVEMENT IN THE W CAPE SURVEILLANCE ZONE
Please read the link below pertaining to containment in the W Cape Surveillance Zone following the death of a horse, which tested positive for African horse sickness. The Equine Health Fund and Equine Research Centre are supporting the WC DAFF in the investigation of the outbreak. All owners with horses planning to travel to the upcoming sales, or shows, from the containment zone should confer with their treating vet and the state vet for movement certificates.
Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available. Queries should be directed to Bev Parker (082 578 7044) or Camilla Weyer (083 710 2408).
Click here for the link to the Notice from the W Cape Department of Agriculture.
Click here for the link to the Notice from the W Cape Department of Agriculture.
RETIREMENT OF RACEHORSES
The National Horseracing Authority believes that all horses deserve to be treated with care and dignity when their racing career comes to an end. Thoroughbred horses are refined athletes and do excel in order equine sports such as polo, show jumping, dressage and equitation. However, they are not designed to withstand meagre or rural conditions and every effort must be made to prevent Thoroughbreds from ending up in circumstances where they would be neglected or abused.
For this reason, The National Horseracing Authority has promulgated a new rule to specify how racehorses must be treated once they have finished racing. The new rule recognises that all Owners have a responsibility towards their horses, whether they have been successful or unsuccessful, and that Owners have certain obligations to make sure that their horses do not end up in unpleasant conditions.
Whilst The National Horseracing Authority is mindful that the additional burden of responsibility now placed on the Owner may be inconvenient, it is certain that everybody will agree that these magnificent animals which provide so much excitement and provide significant economic benefits, deserve careful consideration when their time as a racehorse is over.