Bevie’s Delight (far side) dead-heating with stablemate Except Temptation (closest) in her last start (Picture: Candiese Lenferna Photography).
The Peter Muscutt-trained filly Bevie’s Delight was tested positive for Trendione, a forbidden substance, after deadheating for first place in race 7 at Hollywoodbets Greyville on 17 September.
Some were surprised to read he had waived his rights to send the reference specimen for confirmatory analysis and wondered whether it was an admission of guilt.
In fact the key point in this case is that also found in the the specimen taken from the filly was a substance called, Altrenogest, an oestrus suppressant, whose use is provided for in the provisions of the Exempted Substances List (Appendix N of the Rules).
Altrenogest is a permitted substance for fillies and mares and is used on those who keep on going in and out of season, because that condition obviously affects their mood which then affects their performance.
Using Altrenogest in male horses is forbidden.
An Australian report on Altrenogist in 2018 said, “All current formulations of Altrenogest contain a low level of background impurities including trenbolone and trendione.”
The report followed the detection of the prohibited substances trenbolone and trendione (both anabolic androgenic steroids) from two racing mares in Victoria in September 2017 and January 2018. The source of these positive swabs had been traced to the injectable form of Altrenogest (specifically Ceva’s Readyserve Injection).
The problem with Altrenogest is it is chemically very closely related to both trenbolone and trendione. In fact, an alternative chemical name for Altrenogest is allyltrenbolone. Trendione is a prohormone with virtually no activity per se. However Trendione can be converted to Trenbolone in the body.
This chemical similarity means that in most (if not all) samples of Altrenogest there will be a small amount of impurities including trenbolone and trendione. Typically these are present in levels below 0.05% and, as such, at levels that are both subtherapeutic,
inconsequential and below normal detection limits. Altrenogest is not converted to either trenbolone or trendione in vivo (in a living organism).
Peter Muscutt confirmed Bevie’s Delight had been given Altrenogest though a routine oral administering.
He said he had handed over the Altrenogest that had been used to the NHA.
He said the NHA confirmed that that the particular Altrenogest used had been contaminated at manufacture stage i.e. the Trendione was found to be present in it.
Subsequent to the two Trendione positives in Australia back in 2017 and 2018, the various racing jurisdictions there issued warnings for the use of Altrenogest. All jurisdictions warned against injectable Altrenogest, some of them warned against both injectable and oral adminstration and some declared oral Altrenogest may be used up until one clear day before racing.
The reason for these warnings was because when it comes to completely forbidden substances, which in this case is steroids, there is not a permissable threshold.
NSW is the only jurisdiction in Australia that allows a steroid threshold to facilitate the use of Altrenogest. Most international jurisdictions, including UK, Ireland, Hong Kong and Japan, align with the remainder of Australia in not having a permissible threshold for steroids. It would appear South Africa is the same.
It would appear too that in South Africa no such warnings were issued to trainers about the dangers of being tested positive for Trendione if using Altrenogest, as they were in Australia.
The 2018 report in Australia raised the question, “It becomes a philosophical and somewhat abstract argument as to what analytical screening limit actually constitutes a perceived zero level of detectability. That is, if the impurity is below the limits of detectability using the latest, most advanced analytical methods, does this constitute a zero level?”
Peter Muscutt’s concluding words on the subject today echoed that sentiment.
He said, “It is like getting caught speeding when there are no speed signs on the freeway.”
In a recent case in Australia two mares have been sidelined for 12 months due to Trendione positives and the source in that case is also believed to be oral Altrenogest.
Below is the NHA press release about Bevie’s Delight.
Interim Suspension of BEVIES DELIGHT
- The National Horseracing Authority confirms that upon analysis by its Laboratory, the presence of Trendione, a forbidden substance, was disclosed in a urine specimen taken from BEVIES DELIGHT after it had won Race 7 at Hollywoodbets Greyville Racecourse on 17 September 2023. It was also noted that the specimen taken from this filly contained Altrenogest, an oestrus suppressant, which use is provided for in the provisions of the Exempted Substances List (Appendix N of the Rules).
Subsequently, BEVIES DELIGHT (Trained by Mr P B Muscutt) was scratched from Race 4 on Sunday 15 October 2023.
The Trainer of BEVIES DELIGHT has been advised and has waived his rights to send the reference specimen for confirmatory analysis.
The tentative date for an Inquiry to be held into the presence of the forbidden substance, Trendione, is Tuesday, 24 October 2023.