Six new genetic tests for racehorses likely within two years

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Genomics scientist Dr Emmeline Hill and Irish racehorse trainer and breeder Jim Bolger with Banimpire, a multiple-Group race winning racehorse. Hill and Bolger are the co-founders of Equinome.
Genomics scientist Dr Emmeline Hill and Irish racehorse trainer and breeder Jim Bolger with Banimpire, a multiple-Group race winning racehorse. Hill and Bolger are the co-founders of Equinome.

The Irish company which developed the so-called speed gene test for racehorses says it has six new DNA-related tests in development, which it intends to launch over the next two years.

Dublin-based Equinome also announced plans to open an office in the United States next year, having already opened one in Australia.

Equinome is a University College Dublin spin-out company co-founded in 2009 by Dr Emmeline Hill with well-known Irish trainer and breeder Jim Bolger.

Hill announced plans to double the company’s workforce to 20 over the next 12 months during a gathering at which she was presented with the 2014 NovaUCD Innovation Award. The annual award was established in 2004 to highlight the university’s commitment to innovation.

Hill, a genomics researcher in the university’s School of Agriculture and Food Science, received the award from the university’s president, Professor Andrew Deeks.

The award acknowledges the success of Equinome internationally.

Thoroughbred breeders have historically relied on combining successful bloodlines together, hoping that the resulting foal would contain the winning combination of genes which have contributed to the success of the bloodlines to date.

Traditionally, whether those winning genes had or had not been inherited, could only be surmised by observing the racing and breeding success of the horse over three to seven years after its birth.

Research carried out Hill, funded by the Science Foundation Ireland, resulted in the identification of what is now referred to as the “speed gene”.

The launch by Equinome in 2010 of a test for the inheritance of the gene means racehorse owners and trainers around the world can now identify as soon as a foal is born if it is ideally suited to racing over short, middle or middle-to-long distances.

Since 2010, the firm has launched two additional tests. The Equinome elite performance test is used to identify horses with the greatest potential for racecourse success while the Equinome projected height test can be used to predict the mature height of a thoroughbred with a high degree of accuracy.

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