By Ric Chapman with additional reporting
Authorities are conducting DNA testing to determine the identity of a horse shipped to stand in Australia after preliminary tests proved it is not Dubai Excellence.
The horse was purchased by Western Australian stud farm Evergreen Lodge and arrived in Australia in February. The breeding season there is set to begin in September.
Dubai Excellence (Highest Honour--Colorado Dancer, by Shareef Dancer) is a half-brother to the ill-fated Dubai Millennium (by Seeking the Gold), who stood just one year before dying of grass sickness.
Evergreen Lodge, owned by Western Australia Turf Club chairman Ted Van Heemst, had sold more than 80 seasons to Dubai Excellence at a fee of A$3,850 (about $3,000). He was purchased for figure reported to be close to A$400,000 (about $300,000), a Racing Post
"He had no markings and no brandings and was pretty much identical to another horse in the yard," van Heemst told the Racing Post
. "I haven't got the full story yet because we're still unravelling it."
Sheikh Mohammed's chief bloodstock adviser John Ferguson told the paper: "We sold Dubai Excellence to Australia in late December and are very concerned by the reports we are hearing, so there will be a full investigation to establish the facts."
Australian bloodstock agent John Chalmers, who purchased the stallion from Darley for a local syndicate, confirmed there has been a case of mistaken identity.
"We've been told by the Australian Stud Book that they are 99% sure he is not Dubai Excellence. When he arrived in Australia we had him inspected by out vet in April and he thoroughly went over the horse and found he didn't have a microchip. I didn't think anything of it because in Australia we've only been chipping horses for the past couple of seasons. But we've since found out that Dubai Excellence would have been in the first crop of horses to receive microchips in England."
Chalmers actively pursued the horse and in December last year managed to persuade Darley into selling him. The horse arrived safely in February. It is not yet known how the horse was mixed up or how the wrong horse arrived in Australia.
Initial blood tests confirmed the horse was not Dubai Excellence.
Michael Ford, keeper of the Australian Stud Book, said DNA results from hair collected from the horse a couple of months ago had returned with irregularities which immediately set the alarm bells ringing.
"The results indicate that while Highest Honour could be the sire of the horse in question, Colorado Dancer is not the dam. Further tests are expected to confirm that this week." Ford said. "There was a six-week period between the connections of the horse receiving the DNA kit and it being returned to us for testing. If we had gotten it back earlier, this situation would be a lot more advanced."
A veterinarian is to take 30 hair samples of the horse which will be tested at a lab in Sydney.