Industry notice – Cobalt thresholds in Australian Rules of Racing

Trainers are reminded of the following amendment to AR.178C. (1)(l), effective 1 September 2016, revising the cobalt threshold in urine and introducing a cobalt threshold in plasma.


(1) The following prohibited substances when present at or below the concentrations respectively set out are excepted from the provisions of AR.178B and AR.178H:

(l) Cobalt at a mass concentration of 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.