Over on the Paulick Report, there’s a story about trainer Doug O’Niell’s latest troubles – this time it’s another milk-shaking violation in California. This is the same trainer who dropped a filly into a $2,000 claimer (that’s not a typo – $2,000 claimers exist in America, which is just wrong, but anyway…) in which she broke down and had to be killed not long after leaving the starting gate. These incidents raise a lot of hue and cry, but nothing ever happens to change the rules. Vets and trainers always seem to convince the public that they’re just acting for the welfare of the horse – better living through chemistry. They insist it has to be this way, and of course it doesn’t.
Timing being everything, I had just read the latest outcry before going over to feed my horses breakfast yesterday morning, to find a car parked in front of the gate waiting for me. Vets from France Galop were here for a control. They came with a list of horses to test, and they would also be verifying the identity of all the horses in the yard, plus taking a look at my pharmaceutical stock and checking on prescriptions. That’s the way it works in France. If you have horses declared in training, they can be tested at any time. And that’s the way it should be. The vets spent the morning doing their work – they were courteous and did not interfere in any way with the work that needed to be done. I needed to give them copies of prescriptions for any horse that had undergone treatment in the past three months, plus they checked to make sure all the vaccinations were up to date. They made sure I didn’t have anything locked away I wasn’t supposed to have. It all went very well, and it really wasn’t a big deal.
Drug testing – in and out of competition – needn’t be a big deal in America, either, except that so many things are allowed, I don’t know how it would be possible to have a decent testing program. All you can do is what they do – issue slaps on the wrist for various overages of bute, lasix and the rest. Until all race-day medication is banned, it will be impossible to test for anything.