By: Chris Roots
Champion trainer Chris Waller believes the ban on use of Altrenogest in Victoria will not effect the spring plans for any mares in his stable, including the bid of Winx for a fourth Cox Plate.
The drug, which regulates the fertility cycle of mares, has been been found to contain traces of anabolic steroids banned under the rules of racing. This led to the Victorian ban on the use of Altrenogest, which is commercially available as Regu-Mate.
Waller is confident from private testing of his mares using Regu-Mate that they can keep racing on the drug, having not found any traces of the steroids in question: trenbolone and trendione.
He hopes a rule change similar to the local rule brought in by Racing NSW can be established to alleviate the potential for a positive test to steroids by any mare during the carnival.
“I don’t think it would stop any of my horses going to Melbourne. We have done our own testing and there has been nothing evident in any of our horses,” Waller said.
“Most of my mares are on it, because it has become a useful aid to keeping a horse regular and in check.
“I haven’t tried the alternative [drug] but I intend too, but how do you ring up an owner and say ‘I would like to try this on your horse’?
“I haven’t got my head around it.”
Waller is hoping a meeting next week will clarify the issue.
“It is a hard one. I have to concentrate on training horses, and the next few weeks are so important to me,” he said.
Waller has a strong posse of group 1 winning mares including Egg Tart, Youngstar, Unforgotten, Shillelagh and, of course, Winx that will target the major races in Melbourne.
He doesn’t want it to become a Winx issue, as it effect all racing mares.
Winx, which will look for her 27th consecutive win in Saturday’s Colgate Optic White Stakes at Randwick, will not race in Melbourne until the Turnbull Stakes at Flemington on October 6 at the earliest, and by then it is hoped a threshold has been established for mares.
Waller says it was obvious that Regu-Mate has changed the ability of mares to race consistently.
“Just go through a stewards report from 10 years ago – you would see ‘my horse was in season today’. You don’t hear it anymore,” he said.
“I don’t want to get drawn into it about Winx. She shouldn’t be used as a talking point for Regu-Mate. I’m sure they will work it out.”
Racing NSW made a local rule for welfare reasons and to maintain punter confidence. Leading Victorian trainer David Hayes said he would send his mares to Sydney if there was not a rule change in Victoria.
The reason for the local rule in NSW was simple, according to chief steward Marc Van Gestel.
“It is an occupational health and safety issue around stables and to help mares race consistently. We are satisfied it is only in traces samples and it doesn’t not improve performance of mares. It just allows them to race consistently,” he said.