News 1508 views last update:14 Jan 2016

UK: Queen's horse fails drug test, feed maker probed

Animal nutrition and horse feed manufacturer Dodson and Horrell has launched an investigation into a component used in one of its products after Queen Elizabeth's racehorse Estimate tested positive for the banned substance morphine.

Buckingham Palace said on Tuesday that Estimate, winner of 2013's Ascot Gold Cup and runner-up this year, was one of five horses to have tested positive for morphine, allowed in training as a pain killer or sedative but banned on race days. The news is unlikely to affect the consequences of the positive test, as the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has a zero tolerance approach to morphine on race days.

Initial indications were that the positive test was a result of the consumption of a contaminated feed product, with Dodson and Horrell saying on Wednesday it was launching an investigation along with an unnamed supplier.

It was believed the contamination could have been caused by naturally occurring poppy seeds, and it had recalled certain batch numbers of its Alfalfa Oil Plus as a precautionary measure. Poppy seeds contain minute amounts of the opiates morphine and codeine, and some owners and trainers have argued in the past that a threshold should be introduced so that stables which unwittingly buy contaminated food do not suffer such harsh penalties. The firm said poppy seeds can enter the supply chain during harvesting, processing, transport or storage.

"No positive test results have been recorded in any other Dodson and Horrell product currently in the market," the company said in a statement on the British Horseracing Association website (

Dodson and Horrell, horse and dog food manufacturer to the Queen since 2006, added that it did not think contamination occurred at its site.

The British Horseracing Authority announced last week that five horses under the care of various trainers had reported to show the presence of morphine in their 'A' samples. The horse will almost certainly be disqualified from the race and the Queen will forfeit the £80,625 prize money.


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