By Matt Stewart
SIGNOFF’S part-owner Sandy McGregor has challenged racing authorities to “make a call, immediately’’ on Ibuprofen, a drug that threatens to skittle the careers of a number of high-class horses.
Trainer Darren Weir on Friday scratched Signoff from a 2400m race at Caulfield on Saturday, the fourth time this campaign the stayer has been withdrawn amid concerns he might test positive to anti-inflammatory drug Ibuprofen.
Trainer Clinton McDonald has been forced to scratch Rib Eye a handful of times recently for the same reason.
Signoff returned a positive test to the drug after he won the Lord Stakes at Caulfield on Boxing Day. He will lose the race and the owners will forfeit their $72,000 cheque.
The Racing Victoria board will meet on Thursday armed with submissions from the integrity council in a bid to establish rules on Ibuprofen.
It will consider the option of not penalising horses that have been testing positive recently.
All of them were treated with Ibuprofen while rehabilitating from tendon injuries at the property of harness trainer Lee Evison.
A source said the difficulty of such a moratorium would be the reaction of those whose gallopers ran second to such horses in future.
“How would you feel, if the winner might have been advantaged by its ibuprofen regime (sic)?’’ he said.
Weir said he was frustrated by the “Russian roulette’’ risk of deciding whether to run horses that are negative to Ibuprofen in elective testing but cannot race because stewards cannot guarantee the horses will test negative on race day.
One horse has tested positive to the drug more than a year after treatment at Evison’s.
McGregor said Signoff might race at Moonee Valley on Friday night in an 11th-hour bid to prepare for the March 14 Adelaide Cup, “but only if he returns a fourth negative test’’.
“Hundreds of owners are affected by this. I know an owner with six horses and three of them are caught up in this mess,’’ McGregor said.
“It is almost entrapment by the industry, unless they’re saying we should simply retire these horses. Run at your own risk, they seem to be saying. It’s unacceptable.
“Racing Victoria, not the stewards, have to make a call on this. We have probably the best stayer in Australia. How can we run it in a Caulfield or Melbourne Cup and not know if we can celebrate until the swab comes back?
“We’ve had three clear tests and there are absolutely no assurances. This has been going on for three years. It’s up to the industry leaders to sort it out.
“Maybe some independent arbiter needs to step in and sort something out.’’
McGregor said Racing Victoria “could not afford for this to become a legal issue”.