Stakes held pending release of cleared swabs
The RIU instruct Swabbing Attendants to collect swabs (preferably urine, otherwise blood) from horses on raceday. The trainer or other stable representative observes the swab collection and signs the sealed sample package.
The stakes for horses that have been swabbed are then held by NZTR pending notification of clearance from the RIU. As from 1 November 2018 all stakes are held for owners, trainers and jockeys until a clearance is received.
The timetable for the normal swabbing process:
- Swabs taken on race day are couriered to the laboratory (lab) or if the meeting is local the samples may be delivered to the lab by a Steward. Samples taken from late in the week or on a weekend do not arrive at the lab until Monday morning. The lab is not open on weekends.
- The Lab operates a weekly process where all samples received at the Lab by lunchtime on Tuesday are then put through a screening process. The Lab works on completing their screening within ten working days of receiving samples.
- The Lab advises the RIU when swabs are cleared and in return the RIU will advise NZTR to release stakes on cleared swabs. However, recent testing for cobalt has lengthened the clearance and release time. Cobalt tests are carried out at another laboratory based in Wellington.
The timetable for cobalt swabbing process:
Some swabs are also tested for cobalt and this can add a week to the clearance. The cobalt process works as follows:
- Each Monday the RIU advises the lab of the swab numbers that are to be tested for cobalt from the race meetings of the previous week.
- On Monday, the lab takes a sample from each of the advised swabs and sends them to the lab which does the cobalt testing. Monday is the best day for this process to take place as the lab receives the swabs from Friday and weekend meetings on that day and can prepare the swabs for screening and take the sample for cobalt testing all at the same time.
- The turn-around from the lab testing for cobalt is usually seven to ten working days. A cobalt clearance usually comes a week after the general scan clearance.
NZTR Stake Payment Process:
NZTR pays stakes to owners on a fortnightly basis on a Thursday. A schedule of payment dates can be accessed through the LOVERACING.NZ website.
Stakes held due to the swab testing process are paid in the payment run immediately following the release notification from the RIU.
Other reasons affecting a clearance of swabs taken:
There can be logistical delays/testing delays. For example it can take two to three days for swabs to get to the lab from remote race meetings. The lab does not operate on the weekend so swabs taken at race meetings on Friday or Saturday would not have testing commenced until Monday of the next week, or the Tuesday if the Monday is a public holiday. There are seven or eight weeks affected by public holidays each year.
Occasionally there are equipment issues at the lab which will delay testing a day or so. If the Wednesday deadline is missed, given NZTR’s fortnightly payment schedule, this can effectively result in a further two-week delay in payment to owners.
Over the Christmas and New Year period the concentration of racing can also result in a slight delay in clearances due to the higher number of swabs taken.