Australia to get its first equine genetics research laboratory service

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The betting behaviour of race-goers in Finland have been scrutinised by researchers.
The betting behaviour of race-goers in Finland have been scrutinised by researchers.

Australian racing is to get its first equine genetics research laboratory service, which will be established at Scone, in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley.

The region is one of Australia’s top Thoroughbred breeding districts.

The chair of Racing Australia, Frances Nelson, said the laboratory would perform vital functions for the Australian Thoroughbred racing industry.

“The work of the centre will be critical to the ongoing integrity of Australian racing,” she said. “Its DNA testing underpins both the breeding and racing sectors of our sport.”

To ensure the centre met world standards, Racing Australia worked with the International Society of Animal Genetics to gain approval and membership.

The new facility will be established within Scone’s Hunter Valley Equine Research Centre complex. The lab is expected to be operational by April next year, with building works due to be completed by the end of this year.

The Hunter Valley Equine Research Centre’s chairman, Bill Rose, said the facility it would enhance the integrity of Australian racing and breeding.

He said he was delighted that Racing Australia had made the decision to establish the laboratory in the heart of the local breeding region.

The centre will undertake DNA typing of all Thoroughbred foals to confirm parentage and establish a unique pedigree that will be accessible throughout its life.

It will also provide services to 30 other horse breed societies across Australia.

An estimated 20,000 tests will be analysed at the centre each year.

Nelson also announced that Dr Natasha Hamilton would be the centre’s inaugural director. She has worked at the University of Sydney as a researcher and lecturer, most recently teaching neurophysiology and equine science.

She is also a contributing member of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities’ Gene Doping Control Subcommittee, the International Equine Genome Mapping Workshop and the International Society of Animal Genetics.

Hamilton said she was particularly excited about the research possibilities of the role.

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