Industry notice – Cobalt thresholds in Australian Harness Racing Rules (AHRR)

Trainers are advised of the following amendment to AHRR 188A(2)(k), effective 1 November 2016, revising the cobalt threshold in urine and introducing a cobalt threshold in plasma.


(2) The following substances when present at or below the levels set out are excepted from the provisions of sub rule 1 and Rule 190AA:

(k) Cobalt at a concentration at or below 100 micrograms per litre in urine or 25 micrograms per litre in plasma.

  • The lowered urine threshold and new plasma threshold provide for significantly tighter regulation of the administration of cobalt-containing products in racing animals.
  • Cobalt is a naturally occurring trace element that may be present at very low levels in horses as a result of the ingestion of routine foodstuffs. Cobalt is also present in the structure of vitamin B12 (cobalamin).
  • Trainers are advised:
    • that a normal racing diet is more than sufficient to meet a horse’s nutritional requirements for cobalt and vitamin B12.
    • that registered injectable cobalt supplements offer no nutritional advantage because incorporation of cobalt into the vitamin B12 molecule occurs within the horse’s gut.
    • that the administration of certain registered vitamin supplements, particularly by injection, close to racing may result in a cobalt level in a urine or blood sample in excess of the threshold and therefore the administration of such products close to racing should be avoided.
    • to avoid the simultaneous use of multiple supplements containing cobalt and/or vitamin B12 and to not administer nutritional supplements in excess of the dose and frequency recommended by the manufacturer.
    • to only administer nutritional supplements that are manufactured and marketed by reputable companies and avoid the use of inadequately labelled and unregistered products.
  • Trainers should consult with their veterinarian to ensure that their feeding and supplementation practices are sufficient to meet the nutritional requirements of horses under their care and that their supplementation practices, particularly with products containing cobalt and/or vitamin B12, are not excessive in light of those requirements.

Gear Activation by Foot

A recent amendment to Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR) 170(1) will become effective from 1 November 2016. The amendment to AHRR 170(1) states:

A driver shall, throughout the course of a race, drive with both feet in the rests of the sulky, unless he is activating approved gear.

The amendment to Rule 170(1) is ‘unless he is activating approved gear’.

Therefore, as of 1 November 2016, drivers participating in Queensland races will have the option to use their feet to activate removable gear in accordance with AHRR 170(1). Alternatively, drivers are able to continue to activate removable gear by hand.

An acceptable method of activating gear by foot will be considered by QRIC Stewards to occur when the movement of the foot is directed in a sideways or upwards direction from the sulky footrest.

Whereas, an unacceptable method of activating gear by foot, which will not be accepted by QRIC Stewards and may result in penalties being imposed, will be if the drivers foot is positioned in a downwards direction from the sulky footrest.

Regardless of the amendment to this rule, significant penalties for improper driving may apply to any driver that places their foot in close proximity to the hind leg of a horse, to make contact or attempt to make contact with a horse’s hind leg.