Seven racehorses — including The Queen’s Royal Ascot runner Estimate — have been disqualified from races after testing positive for morphine and oripavine.
Five-year-old mare Estimate tested positive following this year’s Gold Cup at Royal Ascot where she was runner up — a race she won in 2013 for trainer Sir Michael Stoute.
After a British Horseracing Authority hearing today (Thursday 25 September), she also been stripped of her £80,625 prize money for finishing second in the 2014 race.
However, as the seven positive tests are believed to have been caused by contaminated feed no action is to be taken against the horses’ trainers.
At the hearing the BHA was “satisfied all reasonable precautions” had been taken to avoid any breach of the Rules.
All horses had been fed Alfalfa Oil Plus, manufactured by Dodson & Horrell.
The product was identified as the source of the morphine, and the company confirmed that a component product used in the production of it had been contaminated by poppy seeds, which are naturally occurring sources of morphine and oripavine.
Morphine is listed by the BHA as a “naturally occurring substance”, which is permitted out of competition but banned on racedays.
Although no penalty was imposed on trainers, the BHA concluded the horses must still be disqualified.
“The administration of the substance was accidental and no fault of those connected to the horse but, while it is unfortunate for those involved, no other approach would be acceptable when the cornerstone of our policy is ensuring a level playing field for all participants,” said Jamie Stier, BHA director of raceday operations and regulation.
“Instances of feed batches becoming contaminated are, thankfully, very rare. It has been an unfortunate situation for those involved, especially the connections of all the horses affected.”
The other racehorses were Royal Alcor, trained by Gay Kelleway, who won at Yarmouth on 26 June, Soul Intent who won at Epsom on 3 July and Jolly Red Jeanz who won at Chester on 12 July, both trained by Barry Hills; Charlie Hills’ Strath Burn who won at Newbury on 3 July and Tony Carroll’s Ocean Legend who won at Brighton on 24 June.
Estimate’s stablemate Russian Realm, who was unplaced in the Buckingham Palace Stakes, was also disqualified.
It is not yet known if trainers will seek compensation.
A spokesman for Dodson & Horrell said the company “co-operated fully with this investigation”.
“The hearing decided that as the circumstances surrounding the positives were very similar and there was a common factor in the use of Alfalfa Oil Plus, that in their opinion, the most likely source of the contamination was from this product,” read a statement.
“Dodson & Horrell cannot comment on any aspects of the third party supplier’s business and any compensation issues are in the hands of their insurers.”
A separate hearing is to be held on 16 October for Eve Johnson Houghton, who also had a runner test positive, but it had not been fed Alfalfa Oil Plus.