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Misconceptions of Dope testing in Racing

lab testing set up

I am lucky enough to be Dope Witness at the race track for the next few weeks. Before my training this week, I never really knew anything about the process but had a few thoughts/ideas which turned out to be wrong. I thought I would share these with you.

  1. Not every horse racing is tested.
    As a general rule, only 5-8 horses are tested each race day meeting. After a race, stewards will select a horse(s) for dope testing. If there are 7 races, there might be 5 horses selected for dope tests, possibly with two or more from the same race.
  2. It is not only winning horses which are tested.
    A horse may be selected randomly or for a reason. Patterns tend to be that they won, were a beaten favourite, or they were an outsider which did much better than expected.
  3. Dope tests do not require blood to be taken.
    This largely depends on what sort of test they are doing. But for post race dope tests, bloods are only taken if they fail to get a urine sample.
  4. Refusal of a pre race dope test means the horse cannot run
    If an owner/trainer refuses to have a horse tested before a race, the horse is not allowed to run, but they must still give a sample.
  5. Pre race tests are looking for high levels of Carbon Dioxide
    Carbon dioxide in the blood causes lactic acid build up which leads to stitch. There is an idea that if you expose a horse to lactic acid before a race, you condition the horse for it and therefore it will have less of an affect during the race, enabling the horse to run faster or for longer.

I thought these were interesting and if I find out any new ones I will add them to the list!


Last Updated on 07/08/2018

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