By Bren O'Brien
Experienced trainer Mick Price has labelled the effective ban on the use of Regu-Mate in Victoria as a serious occupational, health and safety issue for those who handle horses and said the 'absolutely stupid decision' needs to be reviewed immediately .
Altrenogest, sold as Regu-Mate, is a common treatment used to prevent mares coming into season. However, Racing Victoria announced in September it would have a 'no-tolerance' stance to any positives to traces of the steroids trendione or trenbolone from the use of altrenogest on mares.
Victoria's stance, which effectively prevents trainers from using altrenogest, differs from New South Wales, which applies an exemption to positives where the levels of steroids present are considered non-consequential.
The issue was expected to be a significant one during the recent Spring Carnival, but it remained on the back-burner until Price opted to raise it again on Sunday.
Price, one of the most successful trainers in Australia over the past 20 years, is a respected voice among the training fraternity, and speaking on RSN's Correct Weight, he said that there was widespread concern that the raceday behaviour of mares had deteriorated to a point where it was becoming dangerous.
"Someone will get hurt. You've got 500kg mares getting in barriers and misbehaving. I just don’t get the sense of it." - Mick Price
"I spoke to a very experienced person in the barrier area and I asked if he'd noticed any deterioration in the behaviour of these mares of late. He said definitely," Price said.
"The decision in NSW to have a threshold for Regu-Mate is a good one and business rolls on no problem. The decision in Victoria is a poor one, to have no threshold."
"Someone will get hurt. You've got 500kg mares getting in barriers and misbehaving. I just don’t get the sense of it."
Pedrena scratching the tip of the iceberg
Price's mare Pedrena (Mossman) was a late scratching from Saturday's G3 Summoned S. at Sandown after kicking out at the barrier stalls pre-race. The trainer indicated she had been stirred up by the bad behaviour of other mares.
"I've noticed mare after mare misbehaving. The sun is out and there's no Regu-Mate." - Mick Price
"Whoever made the decision, it needs to be re-addressed. If you look at yesterday, it’s unacceptable. I'm not just talking about Pedrena, I've noticed mare after mare misbehaving. The sun is out and there's no Regu-Mate."
"It’s nearly an OH&S thing for these mares. I'm not sure if the people who make these decisions watch what happens or pick up the pieces when these mares smash themselves around, but it’s an absolutely stupid decision that once again NSW has got right, and Victoria gets it wrong."
"Progesterone is not the answer, it is too short acting and not effective enough. There's no other thing in the market." - Mick Price
Racing Victoria has suggested progesterone as an alternative treatment, but Price said in his experience, it was not effective. He said he would take the matter further this week.
"Progesterone is not the answer, it is too short acting and not effective enough. There's no other thing in the market," he said.
"I'm going to ring (RV chairman) Brian Kruger tomorrow and (RV Integrity Services Manager) Jamie Stier and have another discussion about it."
Double stakes joy at Sandown
Price celebrated a stakes double on Saturday with the win of Steal My Kisses (I Am Invincible) in the Listed Merson Cooper S. and Persuader (Zoustar) in the Listed Twilight Glow S.
Persuader was an upset winner for owners Sheamus Mills and Heath Newton, who paid $360,000 for her at the 2017 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale.
Price revealed that Mills had his eye on two Zoustar fillies at the sale, but thought the other one, out of Solar Charged, would go for too much, so went the extra mile to buy Persuader.
That filly was Sunlight, who would go on to win the 2018 Magic Millions 2YO Classic and recently won the G1 Coolmore Stud S.
"Sheamus had to make a decision between Persuader and Sunlight and he thought Sunlight would be out of reach price wise," Price said.
"As it turned out Sunlight brought $300,000 and Persuader brought $360,000. Ah well, you can't buy them all and that's the standard folly of the yearling sale."
Deserved success for Mills and Newton
While happy to rib his former racing manager Mills about the decision to purchase Persuader, Price is equally delighted that she is now a stakes winner at just her eighth start.
"Heath Newton and Sheamus Mills, they are big contributors to the industry. They are breeders and big investors in the industry. She was one of Sheamus's purchases and he's got skin in the game, so good luck to him," he said.
"He's got good credibility in the game and he's not a bad judge of what goes through as yearlings." - Mick Price on his former racing manager Sheamus Mills
"He was with me for a fair time. He was my racing manager when we were a bit smaller and we spent every day for a few years doing the same things here in the stables. He's got a good practical feel. He's got good credibility in the game and he's not a bad judge of what goes through as yearlings."
She became the fifth stakes winner for Widden's Zoustar, who Price admits is making a considerable impression.
"Obviously he's going well the stallion," he said. "He'll just get better and better. They are good types and they do the job."