Swab Irregularity A Cause For Concern For Trainers

REGU-Mate has long been widely used for estrus suppression for thoroughbred mares yet its use is banned in all states other than New South Wales.

Peter Davis

17 May 2021

REGU-Mate has long been widely used for estrus suppression for thoroughbred mares yet its use is banned in all states other than New South Wales.

Greyhound racing is now facing a dilemma in the same realm with the Greyhounds Australasia-approved suppressant, ethylestrenol (marketed as Orabolin), in short supply.

Prior to January 2016, a very low threshold for testosterone usage (including the popular Testaprop) was in place and allowable under GA’s rules yet that capacity was removed with the likes of Orabolin, Levlen ED and Primolut N considered other options.

Late last week, news spread that a Sydney-based trainer had returned a swab irregularity regarding a bitch on Orabolin which has caused a stir and worry among the training fraternity.

“I just don’t use anything in the way of a seasonal suppressant on my bitches,” leading trainer Mark Gatt said.

“I used Orabolin for a while a few years back but the girls ‘lost a leg’.

“When a bitch comes into season, it’s four months work to get them back to race fitness.

“It’s a real problem for owners and trainers alike as the drugs can turn many bitches ‘sour’ and the decision not to use a suppressant can dramatically cut a racing career.”

A prime example is Mark Gatt’s smart Ritza Vonnie – the winner of 12 from 25 including a quite stunning victory over 515m at Bulli.

That night, she spotted Million Dollar Chase winner Good Odds Harada a sizeable start and ran on by to score by 1 ¼ lengths.

“Vonnie came into season after winning over 618m at Richmond in near record time (35.20) about 18 months back,” Gatt added.

“She was on her way back and trialling brilliantly but suffered a leg injury and was retired. Had she not been injured (in late January last year), her return would have been in February or 16 weeks after she last raced.”

There will be little appetite for change at GA, however.

The representative body is far from agile in responding to industry needs and, with supply of Orabolin – the preferred suppressant for many – compromised, GA needs to be woken from slumber.

The answer is to allow the use of Testaprop as per the pre-2016 edict with a strict threshold but that sensible outcome is a ‘snowflake’s chance in hell’ of being returned.