A leading British trainer has decided against starting a champion racehorse in the upcoming Epsom Derby after a speed gene test revealed the longer distance would not suit him.
Hugo Palmer has revealed that his decision to withdraw 2000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold from the Epsom Derby was informed by genetic testing undertaken by Equinome, the company bought late last year by Ireland-based nutrition company Plusvital.
Galileo Gold returned a result showing he had the C:C genotype.
Equinome scientists have found that horses with the C:C genotype have an optimum race distance of less than or equal to 1 mile.
From a set of almost 1000 Group/Listed race winners tested to date, less than 1 percent of C:C horses in Europe had demonstrated their optimum trip at a mile and a half.
Horses with the C:T and T:T genotypes are considered best suited to the Derby distance.
Plusvital’s chief operations officer, Donal Ryan, said: “It’s not the first time that a key decision to race a horse in the Derby has been made based on a combination of traditional methods and our genetic tools.
“Hugo has a clear understanding of how to combine the scientific information with his deep knowledge and understanding of the horse to ensure it is given the optimal opportunity to perform at its best.”
The Equinome speed gene test was launched in January 2010 following the publication by Dr Emmeline Hill, a leading equine genomics researcher, of a scientific paper which revealed the association of a gene related to muscle development with optimum racing distance in thoroughbred racehorses.
Since then, more than 10 scientific publications, including studies by separate independent international research groups in the US, Italy and Japan, have further validated this study and investigated the effect of the gene in other horse breeds.
In the last six years, the Equinome speed gene and elite performance tests have been adopted in all the major racing regions of the world.
More than 13,000 horses from 19 countries have been tested to date, including close to 1000 Group and Listed race winners.
Plusvital is working on the expansion of Equinome. It will hire 50 new employees in the short term, and plans to invest more than €3.5 million in equine science research over the next three years.
This will result in the introduction of a range of new scientifically supported equine products in genetics and nutrition, among others.