The Australian Racing Board (ARB) has introduced a new rule banning the stomach-tubing of a horse on the day of its race or during one Clear Day prior to the day of the race.
One Clear Day means a 24 hour period from 12.01am to 12 midnight. In other words, a horse engaged on a Saturday cannot be stomach-tubed (or any application of a naso-gastric tube) from 12.01am on the Thursday night.
“At present a horse can be tubed up to 24 hours before its race which can create a grey area and an element of uncertainty. The ARB believes it is in the interests of all concerned for there to be a definite and enforceable cut off time. There is no possibility of a horse returning an elevated reading on race day if the one Clear Day has been adhered to by trainers” ARB Chief Executive Peter McGauran said.
Mr McGauran said that lengthy and thorough veterinary advice was obtained which concluded that there was no clinical or welfare reason to tube a horse the day before race day.
“Vets from all Principal Racing Authorities concluded that Australia had developed a culture of over reliance or over use of tubing which is out of step with world’s best practice notwithstanding the need for country trainers to travel long distances in hot weather. If a horse is so dehydrated that it must be stomach-tubed and can’t be managed with electrolyte pastes or an IV drip, it clearly should not race and should be allowed to recover” Mr McGauran said.
Mr McGauran said that the rules would exempt alkalinizing agents contained in commercial feeds or electrolyte supplements after trainers raised concerns as to inadvertent elevated levels of the plasma total carbon dioxide (TCO2).
“There will be a negligible effect on TCO2 if trainers feed their horses according to manufacturers’ recommendations for normal daily use” Mr McGauran said.
Mr McGauran said the new rule would commence on the 1st of September and would bring clarity, certainty and predictability to the situation.