Trainers in Lambourn have responded to the fate of James Main, struck off on Tuesday by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons for injecting a racehorse with a banned substance, by calling for a discussion as to whether racing’s rules should permit the use of anti-bleeding medication.
But a British Horseracing Authority spokesman indicated there was no prospect of a change in the flat ban on such medication, arguing that horses who needed medication in order to be fit to race should not be racing at all.
Barring a successful appeal, Main, a long-serving and respected vet in the Lambourn area, will be unable to practise for at least the next 10 months, but there was much sympathy for his situation among trainers who have used his services.
“I think they’ve been very hard on him,” said Charlie Mann. “He’s always had the horse’s welfare at heart. He’s worked for me for 18 years and he’s a very good vet.” Main’s professional ability was praised by other trainers, including Marcus Tregoning and Noel Chance.
Mann said he knew little of tranexamic acid (TA), which Main injected into the Nicky Henderson-trained Moonlit Path hours before the mare ran at Huntingdon in February 2009.
“I gather it’s something that doesn’t stop a horse or help him win a race, it’s a welfare thing, if he bleeds during the race,” Mann said. “Bleeding is a horrible thing for a horse and, if something like this can help him over that, then of course it should be looked at.”
That view was echoed by David Arbuthnot, who said: “I’ve never used [TA] myself. Obviously, in racing circles, one has heard of it. If there was anything that helped a horse that bled during a race, which could be legal, then I would welcome that because bleeding is obviously something that causes distress to a horse.”
Tregoning spoke up for the status quo. “My feeling is that the drug testing in this country is the best in the world, and I’ve raced horses elsewhere, where other drugs are allowed. I’m not convinced it’s for the good of the breed [to allow other drugs]. We want sound horses, we don’t want to be racing on any sort of medication, we want the soundest in the breed to remain. I’m really not keen on the situation in America, where Lasix and other drugs are allowed.”