The above article about drugs in horse racing written by Max Presnell was published in the Sydney Morning Herald over 30 years ago, back in the days when the newspapers had real racing writers, not just sycophantic slugs like the Courier-Mail’s hapless Nathan Exelby, who couldn’t pen a racing story without a press release or some poor sould to feed it to him, and wouldn’t know a race rort if it bit him on the arse.
(What’s that? Archie sounds as if he doesn’t like Nathan Exelby? Spot on Sherlock. He can’t write, he struggles to think, he cops freebies from people like the BRC and the Magic Millions that he should be caning, he’s got his craven fingers in every semi-legit cash for comment cow pie going, he’s a useless prick, a vindictive cry baby, a waste of time and space, an enemy of the trots and dogs, a trough swiller, a handbag carrier for crooks whomshould carted head first off race courses, a coppers dog, a cur, a friend of the pervert Fowler, and a big ugly, fat necked, wombat headed, big bellied, magpie legged, narrow hipped splaw-footed son of a strapper in Joh’s fecund stable full of fools)
Three decades may have passed, but the fundamental principles of doping racehorses remain the same.
Silence the pain.
Suppress the build up of lactic acid.
It’s real simple when you break it down.
Only the methods have changed, and there is only one extra added.
Use a masking agent if you can, one that can be explained away by some extrinsic factor and as such carries penalties of no more than a small fine, so that if you get sprung you can blame it on the boogie; the boogie being things like Arsenic from the wood shavings or fence posts, Aminorex from the weeds in the yard, or Frusemide just because you love your animal and because you care.
The stimulants get the horse up and going and ready to roar. It’s real good for geldings who lack the testosterone driven aggression of uncut colts and stallions, particularly geldings that run from the front and need that bit of macho competitive grunt to keep kicking and fighting to not let any bastard past them.
The pain killers are so that they don’t feel their legs or aching joints. Think about when you’ve rolled your ankle in a footy match or a netball game. You can play through the pain for a while while the game’s still going at full speed, and your adrenaline is still flowing, and the injury spot is hot; but the minute the ref calls a scrum or the play stops it starts to hurt like hell and you can’t run anymore. Well you can if you can’t feel it.
Holding off the lactic acid is the real key though. It’s the stuff that starts spewing in when you run out of puff, the naturally occurring internal process that causes you stitches and cramps and heavy legs when you’re sprinting along at high speed and start running out of puff.
The running out of puff is caused by your body not being able to process oxygen and turn it into energy any more, because you’ve used all your oxygen processing capacity up through your vigorous exercise or activity.
A horse’s blood, just like a humans, is comprised of three main elements: plasma, white cells and red cells.
We’re being simplistic here, not super scientific, just so everyone can get the picture.
Plasma is like the sushi train. It contains all the vital stuff required for life like salt, water and enzymes, and transports them around the body for the other parts to pluck out and eat. It also takes away the empty plates afterwards.
White cells fight germs and infections.
Red blood cells carry and transport the oxygen you and horses suck in to the heart and lungs, and carry the carbon dioxide (TCO2) left over afterwards away for you and gee-gee to breathe out.
The guts of doping is that the higher your red blood cell count, the more oxygen you can carry and process, and therefore the longer you – or in this particular case, your horse – can run at high speed before the lactic acid kicks in and you or they run out of puff.
If my horse races clean it might be able to sprint for 200 metres before it gets the wobbles; but if yours is blood doped it might be able to run 400 metres full belt before it gets tired.
You don’t need me to tell you which one is going to win.
That in a nutshell is horse doping.
It’s a piece of piss.
Beating the drug tests or swabs isn’t though.
And therein lies the challenge for the cheat
To be continued …..