Ruby Walsh expects the contaminated horse feed scandal which marred Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe to have far-reaching costs for supplier GAIN and the racing community.
All four of Aidan O’Brien’s horses due to run in the Arc – Mogul, Japan, Serpentine and Sovereign – were withdrawn on the eve of the showpiece race at Longchamp after they tested positive for a banned substance.
O’Brien’s sons Joseph and Donnacha also withdrew their horses which were due to run at the meeting in France, with a total of 11 challengers trained by the trio absent while Roger Varian – who uses the same feed supplier – also stood down all seven of his intended runners on Saturday.
Speaking on the latest episode of Paddy Power’s From The Horse’s Mouth podcast, Ruby said: “This is a huge headache for GAIN and incredibly disappointing for everybody who uses GAIN horse feed.
“It hasn’t become clear how their feed became contaminated, and whatever has been contaminated has only been found in the French laboratories… the traces must be so minuscule that the English and Irish labs haven’t found them yet.
“It is very disappointing, but technically that is a banned substance so those horses can’t run when it’s in their system.
“The financial costs for GAIN are going to be massive, and I think the costs for all racing fans were felt over the weekend when the four Aidan O’Brien horses came out of the Arc, when all of Joseph’s horses couldn’t run and also Donnacha’s.
Announcement on tomorrow’s runners pic.twitter.com/vG1BOPeHvr
— Ballydoyle Racing (@Ballydoyle) October 3, 2020
“And then there is also whatever else is going to happen this week with non-runners as well.
“It’s a short-term loss for racing, but it could be a long-term loss for GAIN.”
Aidan O’Brien pulled his leading Arc contender Love out of the race earlier in the week after heavy rain left the ground very soft.
The adverse weather hampered Enable’s chances of a record-breaking third victory in the world’s most lucrative horse race and it was Sottass, trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, who took the spoils ahead of In Swoop and Persian King.
Building on Ruby’s comments, our own Paddy Power emphasised the size of the issue facing GAIN after France Galop announced the Zilpaterol contamination and he suggests the company may have to pay compensation if found to be at fault after the O’Brien runners missed out on a potential payday.
However, the main man thinks that is the least of the company’s issues while other feed suppliers may also be nervous about their own product until it is known how the contamination was caused.
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) October 4, 2020
Paddy said: “It sounds like this could potentially be expensive for GAIN going forward, regarding legal action.
“It’s a weird one because you just assume that the food is grand! It’s not something that would ever cross your mind, certainly as a lay person.
“There is obviously a knock-on effect if GAIN are held liable – if one of the horses had for example gone on to win the Arc, it would have added to their stud value.
“But it’s very difficult to make that argument or prove that they would have won, and then added value.
“There might be some sort of compensation of sorts, but that is GAIN’s smallest worry. The biggest worry is that everybody is probably going to change their feed provider!
“But is this just a GAIN problem? How it happened is the most important part.”
“The team at GAIN Equine Nutrition are hugely disappointed…..”
Read full statement below. pic.twitter.com/k6rwEyj0p8
— GAIN EquineNutrition (@GAINEquine) October 4, 2020
ITV racing expert and pundit Matt Chapman, who was a guest on Monday’s show, said: “In some ways I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often if you actually think about it.
“You get stories of supermarkets that have had to withdraw a certain product, [while] I’m sure some of our listeners have had a letter through the post about their car and they’ve got to go and change a particular part that four years later the mechanics have found out that that part can blow up after a certain time. These things do happen.
“I don’t know how ruthless Coolmore are – usually rich people are pretty ruthless, perhaps more ruthless than lesser rich people – but I got the idea that taking GAINS apart wasn’t really going to make a lifetime difference to Coolmore.
“Will trainers change their food supplier? Well, the counter argument to that is that GAINS will probably be the safest food on planet earth for every year to come. So if there aren’t that many options then where else do you go?
“It’s obviously unfortunate, it couldn’t have happened at a worse time in the season when everyone’s just got going again, and this is one of the biggest races out.
“But taking GAINS to the cleaners – well you know for me, there’s no gains in that really.”
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