Therapeutic drugs and prohibited substances

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing’s vision for thoroughbred welfare

“A thoroughbred should be provided a good life, with the care and conditions that will allow the horse to thrive and perform to its natural abilities, with minimal discomfort and an absence of suffering.”

New Zealand is a signatory to Article 6 of the IFHA International Agreement on Breeding Racing and Wagering, which sets out provisions governing the use of prohibited substances and recuperation:
  • Racehorses are prohibited from racing with any prohibited substance in their bodies
  • All therapies for horses involved in racing or race training, including rest periods, treatments, and pharmaceuticals, should be based upon a specific diagnosis, administered in the context of a valid and transparent owner-trainer-veterinarian relationship, and given in the interests of the horse’s health and welfare
  • Following any therapy given to a racehorse, a sufficient period should elapse prior to racing such that any therapeutic pharmaceuticals are no longer present and are not capable of giving the horse an advantage nor potentially detrimental to its welfare.

Prohibited substances

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing bans the use of any substance that influences a horse’s speed, stamina or courage in racing.  Drugs must not be allowed to modify the racing performance of the horse, adversely impact on its welfare or conceal genetic or acquired conditions. This includes substances such as alkalinising agents (bicarbonates), hormones, peptides and anabolic steroids that could be administered in ‘out of competition’ training periods to improve a horse’s physique and conditioning.

Any confirmed detection of prohibited substances or metabolites of prohibited substances will result in the horse being disqualified from the race and, in most cases, will result in sanctions on the trainer. These sanctions are usually a combination of suspension and fines.


Therapeutic drug use

Horses are inspected pre- and post-race by Stipendiary Stewards and the race day veterinarian to ensure they are fit to race. Horses must not race under the effect of any pain killer, in an effort to avoid prevent horses racing while injured.

After any veterinary treatment, horses must have sufficient time to recuperate before competing.

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing will:
  • Maintain currency and knowledge about international drug regulations
  • Endorse the Racing Integrity Unit intelligence-led sampling procedures
  • Support ‘out of competition’ sampling
  • Continue to ban the use of steroids
  • Support NZ Racing Laboratory Services Ltd to maintain its ISO accreditation rating and independent operation for sample testing.