Grand National winner Dr Richard Newland says he has witnessed other trainers abusing horse medications, calling the practice “completely contrary to the spirit of good equine welfare.”
Newland, a former general practitioner, has spoken out publicly on the issue of drug use in racing, following the conviction of US top coach Jorge Navarro, who will spend five years in prison after pleading guilty to orchestrating an elaborate and meaningful program. to improve the performance of his horses.
Newland, based in Worcestershire, has experienced the problem closely in recent months after paying over £ 50,000 for Drop The Pilot, imported from France for three years, before having to return the horse when tests, carried out prior to his arrival, returned a positive sample for bisphosphonate Tildren, a drug that is banned for horses under the age of four because it can lead to fractures.
Speaking to Racing Debate, Newland said Sky Sport Racing: “Equine welfare must come first. We all got into this sport because we love horses. All my owners would say the same thing.
“Corticosteroids are very effective drugs for humans and horses to reduce pain and inflammation, but they don’t change an underlying problem.
“What I’m seeing right now is that horses on some yards apparently get huge numbers of corticosteroid injections, even sometimes when they’re not lame and have no problems.
“This, of course, is completely contrary to the spirit of good equine welfare. It just isn’t right.
“I had a bad experience with two horses from the same yard in France who fractured their leg at a gallop.
“It might be pure coincidence and we know these things happen, but I’m pretty convinced, with my doctor’s hat on, that these horses are overly medicalized.
“They are given too many drugs at a young age to get them to campaign like racehorses, when they may not be ready or physically able to do so.
“The problem is that the fracture could go further.
“If you give a lot of drugs that horses shouldn’t be taking, it’s basically putting the horses at risk.”