The issue came up because in Australia, the use of anabolic steroids like those administered in England by Mahmood al Zarooni and Gerard Butler, is perfectly legal while a horse is in training, but must be out of the system when it races.
Leading trainer Roger Charlton put out the tweet that dragged the recently retired Australian wonder mare into the argument. It said, “Was Black Caviar treated with anabolic steroids during her career, and will any of the Australian horses due to come to Royal Ascot be tested?”
That brought a robust denial from Moody when a reporter from the Melbourne Herald Sun asked if Black Caviar had ever received steroids. He said, “Nil. Steroids increase bulk. Black Caviar was a huge mare, from the day she was born. It would have been absolutely counter-productive.”
Moody went on to point out that his horse was tested on arrival in the UK last year, and again three days before her narrow win in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot. He had some powerful words for the British trainers who were casting doubts on the achievements of his mare, suggesting many had ambivalent views about the use of drugs to boost performance, suggesting they were not as “lily-white” as they might like to think.
He said, “They bang on about steroids but they are the first to use Lasix when they campaign horses in the US. Maybe the Poms might start looking at themselves rather than looking at us.”
Charlton’s musings will not have pleased Ascot chief executive Charles Barnett, who said, “Overseas horses which have run here have gone through the proper BHA routines. Royal Ascot is the most important international race meeting there is and it is important horses come to race.”
He also revealed that the course requires all overseas trainers to sign a declaration that their horse has never been given drugs. That is in addition to the statement about any medication a horse has had that the British Horseracing Authority requires. The BHA was not letting on what information was on Moody’s declaration about Black Caviar, simply saying, “There is no evidence to suggest that horses trained from outside Britain competing in this country have done so with the benefit of anabolic steroids. There has been no positive for anabolic steroids. If there was one, the horse in question would be barred from running.”
Meanwhile, a third British trainer has fallen under the eye of the BHA, though in relation to what he has said rather than anything he has done. Frank Sheridan returned to England five years ago after training in Italy for many years. He faces a charge of bringing racing into disrepute after he commented on the Facebook page Al Zarooni set up asking for views about an appeal. Sheridan wrote (amongst other things), “I have been training for years all over Europe. Soon realised that British racing’s image of squeaky-clean is all bullshit and we have the most corrupt racing in the world. Feel a bit sorry for Al Zarooni as he has taken the rap. Let’s hope this is the end of the very incompetent BHA.”