The introduction of equine passports and the licensing of vets are high priorities for NSW racing authorities, particularly in light of the ongoing cobalt saga.
High-profile Melbourne trainers Peter Moody, Mark Kavanagh and Danny O’Brien have been told horses from their stables returned high levels of cobalt during the spring carnival.
Newcastle trainer Darren Smith is the subject of an ongoing inquiry into high levels returned by several horses in his care.
Racing NSW is involved in the development of an equine biological passport similar to that used by the World Anti-Doping Agency to detect gene doping in athletes.
The passport would monitor any changes in the physiology of a horse throughout its career.
WADA introduced the Athlete Biological Passport in 2009 to “monitor selected biological variables over time that indirectly reveal the effects of doping rather than attempting to detect the doping substance or method itself”.
The same principle would apply to horses.
“We believe this will be the greatest tool of all,” V’landys said.
“The physiology of the horse is the most important thing. If there is a change in the physiology it has to be done by artificial means.
“We are collaborating with other bodies like the NRL who want to introduce it for footballers.”
In April last year, Racing Victoria introduced a cobalt threshold of 200 micrograms per litre of urine, a level chief steward Terry Bailey described as generous.
It has been adopted Australia-wide and is also the level used by harness racing authorities who have successfully prosecuted several trainers since its introduction.
V’landys has also been an advocate for veterinary surgeons to be licensed and subject to the rules of racing.
“In Victoria the state government has changed legislation to compel vets to attend inquiries,” he said.
“Out of all the parties, they’re the ones who have the most effect on a horse outside the trainer.
“Why shouldn’t they abide by the rules of racing?”