sport

Morphine used as pain killer

Morphine, the drug which The Queen's horse Estimate has tested positive for according to Buckingham Palace, is banned by the British Horseracing Authority as it can be used to numb pain.

Previously the most publicised case of a horse testing positive for morphine was Be My Royal after he had won the 2002 Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury.

He was subsequently disqualified and his trainer Willie Mullins was not fined but ordered to pay 5,000 in legal costs after a court case as he proved that the traces of morphine came from contaminated feed.

Trainer James Given, a qualified vet, suggested morphine would not be used deliberately as a pain killer in a horse.

Speaking on At The Races on Sunday Given said: "I've never been aware of morphine been used as a deliberate way of masking pain in a horse in order to improve it's performance, so one suspects that it has been administered by accident by contaminated feed, which I should imagine is the most likely cause."

Asked if morphine was not performance enhancing why it should be disqualified, Given said: "Because the Rules are absolute. You are not allowed to use prohibited substances and if you open the door just an inch then it will be kicked open and abused, as we saw last year with anabolic steroids.

"I think the feed companies are responsible people and it's clearly not in their interests to be going through this.

"I think largely the whole training body is in favour of stiffening the Rules so we know where we stand.

"I think the BHA's stance is right and it's good that it's almost setting the standard for the rest of the world to follow in this respect."

Asked how long morphine would stay in a horse and whether it would be able to run again this season, Given said: "I don't know but I would imagine it will be able to run again very quickly.

"I would imagine the amount found in these animals is so infinitesimal the animal would not even know it was in there. If you had it in your system to that degree, you wouldn't know you had it in your system."