Horse gene test goes Down Under

Caitriona Murphy

Equinome, the company behind the 'speed gene' test for thoroughbred racehorses, is to open an office in Australia to cater for growing demand in the Asia-Pacific region.

The genomic test is used to predict whether a racehorse will be best suited to short, sprint-type races or longer, stamina-type races.

The UCD spin-out company was set up in 2009 by UCD genomics scientist Dr Emmeline Hill and renowned racehorse trainer and breeder Jim Bolger.

Equinome has already secured clients in USA, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Ireland, UK, France, Russia and Singapore.

In recent months, major Australian stallion farms Widden Stud and Swettenham Stud have begun to market their stallions with their results from Equinome's genetic tests.

Managing director Donal Ryan said rapid growth in the Asia-Pacific region meant it was necessary to establish a permanent base there.

"Australia and New Zealand are world leaders in the bloodstock industry and home to many of the world's finest thoroughbred racehorses, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with many of the top breeding and training operations here while expanding our regional presence," he said.

The announcement was made at an Enterprise Ireland event in Sydney, attended by Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar.

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Australian Hall of Fame trainer David Hayes said the substantial scientific research upon which Equinome's tests were developed translated into what he saw himself on the track.

"We at Lindsay Park Racing now recommend to all of our owners that they use Equinome's tests to assist in maximising the potential of their racehorse."

Commenting on Equinome's announcement, Professor Peter Clinch, UCD Vice-President for Innovation said the success of Equinome demonstrated the quality and international reach of start-up companies emerging from University College Dublin.

Equinome researchers, in collaboration with UCD researchers, have published more scientific papers on thoroughbred exercise genomics than any other research group worldwide.

Through its associations with top-class breeders and trainers, Equinome has access to large numbers of elite horses at various stages of training and competition that provide subjects for its on-going research programme to identify and characterise the molecular genetic variants underlying key performance and health traits in the thoroughbred.

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