Horse & Hound

The wide impact of feed manufactur­er’s contaminat­ion

Top riders and trainers have withdrawn from competitio­n over contaminat­ed feed fears

- By LUCY ELDER Edited by Eleanor Jones

RIPPLES are being felt across the equestrian world following suspected contaminat­ion involving a major feed supplier.

France Galop announced on 2 October it had launched an investigat­ion after five horses tested positive to prohibited substance zilpaterol.

The investigat­ion pointed to a “common denominato­r” in all five cases, of products marketed under Gain Equine Nutrition.

“At this stage, it cannot be confirmed that this feed is the source,” said the statement.

Gain advised customers to “refrain from feeding our equine products to their animals” pending further investigat­ions.

Zilpaterol is a synthetic betaagonis­t, approved for use as a performanc­e enhancer in some beef production systems outside the EU, but the company stressed that it has “never formed part of any formulatio­n in any of our animal nutrition ranges”.

Martin Ryan, head of Gain Equine, apologised to customers, adding: “A thorough investigat­ion and trace back of all feed ingredient sources is under way as a matter of urgency to determine how this external contaminan­t could have found its way into some batches.”

Trainer Aidan O’Brien pulled all his runners from the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (4 October), including Derby winner Serpentine, a late entry for €72,000 (£65,410), and other races. A statement from his yard Ballydoyle on the eve of the Arc

said results of urine samples from the horses came back positive from the French laboratory.

“There is a possibilit­y that the contaminan­t may have left their system by the time of racing, [but] we have no guarantee of this and in order to protect the integrity of racing, we have decided to withdraw all our horses,” it added.

Other trainers who feed Gain, including Aidan’s sons Donnacha and Joseph, withdrew horses who were set to run in other races at the meeting and further afield.

Top eventer Gemma Tattersall withdrew Santiago Bay and Chilli Knight from Little Downham CCI4*-S (5–6 October).

“I was left with absolutely no choice but to withdraw as I simply cannot risk competing knowing some of my horses’ feed might have been contaminat­ed,” she said. “I’ve always loved Gain feeds and my horses always look and feel amazing. I have never had even the slightest concern about feeding it to all of my horses and even went to the Olympics feeding Gain. I so hope they can get this very difficult situation straighten­ed out so we can go back to feeding our favourite.”

On 4 October, Gain said the team is “hugely disappoint­ed” some customers had to withdraw from important equine events.

“Intensive testing of our equine feed ranges, batches and individual ingredient­s has been under way around the clock since this issue first emerged in France,” said a statement.

“We are continuing to work closely with all appropriat­e agencies, including the Irish department of agricultur­e, to fully investigat­e the source, nature and extent of this contaminat­ion.

“We will provide a more detailed update once further informatio­n is available.”

The news raised questions about how the substance got there, and what riders, trainers and owners with entries in the near future can do next to ensure horses are clean.

The FEI has an “elective testing” option, where samples of registered horses can be tested on request for up to four substances on an elective testing list. But a British Equestrian spokesman told H&H zilpaterol is not on the list, so this is not an option.

Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) lists Gain as a sponsor of Team Ireland’s underage showjumpin­g and eventing teams and official feed consultant­s to HSI’s team.

HSI declined to comment on what options there are for riders with entries in the near future.

The British Horseracin­g Authority (BHA) is working with its contracted laboratory, European colleagues and the manufactur­er as tests continue.

The BHA urged trainers to cease using all Gain products until further investigat­ions are completed, on 2 October.

The BHA also encouraged trainers to record the batch number, product used, date and location of purchase and retain a small sample for future reference.

Further advice was expected as H&H went to press on 5 October.

David Rendle, member of the British Equine Veterinary Associatio­n health and medicines committee, told H&H the drug is not used in horses and in the absence of pharmacoki­netic data, knowledge of the thresholds used in toxicology laboratori­es or published withdrawal times, one cannot give reliable advice on how many days after feeding a horse might test positive.

“I was left with absolutely no choice but to withdraw” GEMMA TATTERSALL

 ??  ?? Horses were withdrawn prior to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe over contaminat­ion concerns
Horses were withdrawn prior to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe over contaminat­ion concerns
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