Irish company launches genetic test for 'speed gene' in horses
Equinome, a new Irish biotech company, has announced the launch of a breakthrough genetic test that can identify the optimum racing distance for individual Thoroughbred horses.
The identification of ‘the speed gene’ is the first known characterisation of a gene contributing to a specific athletic trait in Thoroughbred horses and has the potential to transform decision-making processes in the global bloodstock industry.
The Thoroughbred horse racing and breeding industry is an international, multi-billion euro business, with more than 100,000 foals born each year.
Equinome say that using the gene test would allow racehorse owners and trainers to identify if a horse is ideally suited to racing over short, middle or middle-to-long distances. With this information, they can then optimise their purchasing and training decisions and better target suitable races for their horses.
The company also says that breeders, stallion managers and bloodstock agents will be able to use the test to make more precise selection and breeding decisions to maximise the genetic potential and commercial value of their horses.
Equinome will formally launch the test during the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association (ITBA) Expo 2010 at Goffs, Kill, Co. Kildare from 29th – 30th January.
The development of the Equinome Speed Gene test is a result of groundbreaking research led by Dr Emmeline Hill, a leading horse genomics researcher at the UCD School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine.
The research was the first academic programme in the world to apply novel genomics technologies to identify genetic contributions to racing performance in Thoroughbred horses and was funded by Science Foundation Ireland.
Following the success of the research programme, Dr Hill and Mr Jim Bolger, the renowned Irish racehorse trainer and breeder, co-founded Equinome in 2009 to commercialise the test.