Estimate, a five-year-old mare trained by Sir Michael Stoute, came second in the same race this year, and is one of five horses understood to have recorded a positive test for the banned substance. The palace said they believed the morphine had come via consumption of a contaminated feed product.
John Warren, the Queen’s bloodstock and racing adviser, said: “On Thursday 17 July the British Horseracing Authority announced that a number of post-race samples, obtained from recent race meetings, had been found to indicate the presence of morphine, which is a prohibited substance on race days. Five horses, under the care of various trainers, were affected.
“I can confirm that one of those horses was Estimate, the five-year-old mare trained by Sir Michael Stoute and owned by the Queen. Initial indications are that the positive test resulted from the consumption of a contaminated feed product. Sir Michael is working closely with the feed company involved to discover how the product may have become contaminated prior to delivery to his stables.”
Warren added: “As the BHA investigates this matter, including potential links between the different cases, Sir Michael continues to offer his full co-operation. There will be no further comment until the BHA announces its considered findings. … Her Majesty has been informed of the situation.”
Feed supplier Dodson & Horrell issued a statement the day after the BHA announcement saying it had been informed by its suppliers of possible contamination in one of its products.
The Queen’s victory in the 2013 Gold Cup was hugely popular and marked the first victory in the feature race at the meeting for a reigning British monarch.
It is not the first time the Queen has been connected with a drugs scandal in horse racing. In 2009 Nicky Henderson was fined £40,000 and banned from making entries for three months after Moonlit Path, a horse in his care owned by the Queen, was injected with a banned blood-clotting agent on the day of a race.
If the test is confirmed by the BHA then Estimate will be disqualified from second place in this year’s Gold Cup and the prize money of £80,625 will automatically be forfeited. The Racing Post was reporting last night that Estimate would still race as scheduled at Glorious Goodwood next week.
Charlie Hills, who is based in Lambourn, is the only other trainer to have so far to have confirmed that one of his horses has tested positive in the current morphine case.