Aidan O’Brien’s spring carnival hopes have hit a major hurdle

Irish master trainer Aidan O’Brien’s latest Australian raid has struck a significant hurdle less that 48 hours after his team arrived in Melbourne to tackle Spring Carnival features.

O’Brien’s team of six horses landed in Melbourne late on Friday night but a contaminated feed crisis back in Europe has given the trainer plenty of headaches, which have stretched across the globe.

A batch of O’Brien’s feed was found to be possibly contaminated with the banned substance zilpaterol.

The potential contamination and resulting positive tests forced O’Brien to scratch his horses from the rich Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe meeting in France.

O’Brien told UK broadcaster Racing TV the problem could stretch to the likes of Caulfield Cup topweight Anthony Van Dyck and leading Cox Plate hope Armory.

He said he alerted Racing Victoria’s integrity department to the issue as soon as it became known.

“I’ve been speaking to (RV integrity boss) Jamie Stier in Australia because our horses have gone to Australia with our feed,” O’Brien said.

“Is it going to come up positive in Australia? We’ll know when they do the blood and the urine and the feed samples down there.”

If the tests on the horses come back positive for the banned substance, O’Brien and his team will face an anxious wait to see whether the drug will pass through the horses’ systems in time for them to race from the end of their quarantine on October 17.

Aidan O’Brien’s 2020 Spring Carnival raid has hit a hurdle. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images.Source:Getty Images

Racing Victoria’s international manager Paul Bloodworth told RSN the tests would be done as a matter of priority at Melbourne’s Racing Analytical Services Limited laboratory.

“I’m not exactly sure of the timeline but I would imagine it would be (done in the next 24 to 48 hours) because some of those horses are wanting to race in the Caulfield Cup,” Bloodworth said.

“I would expect that would happen in the short term rather than having to wait too much longer.”

O’Brien said he had switched his Melbourne team to feed borrowed from his son, Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Joseph O’Brien.

He said he considered sending a new batch of feed from Ireland for the horses but decided against it because of the danger changing feed too often would endanger the horses’ health.

“We took the horses off our feed in Australia and Joseph gave us some of his feed so the horses have gone straight onto that straight away,” O’Brien said.

“We had the option of changing feed in Australia until our feed gets down there but that means we’d be changing feed twice in a week.

“There’s a big risk of colic doing that.

“Joseph had enough feed so we’re just changing to Joseph’s feed and that’s what they’re going to stay on.”

Originally published asFeed drama for O’Brien Cup hopes

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