IDENTIFY SPEED GENE COMBINATIONS IN RACEHORSES
have published ground-breaking research which could have enormous implications
for the way in which thoroughbred racehorses are bred, trained and raced.
Thoroughbred Genetics 1st Blood genetic data effectively fast-tracks
horses possessing or passing on the right performance gene combinations to
the optimum distance, racecourse and even particular race. It can also identify
horses optimum ages for winning. This scientific breakthrough removes
the fingers-crossed approach to breeding and racing and can help
streamline every owners quest to produce another Sunline.
The six-year study has been
published in the international peer-reviewed journal, Mitochondrion.
It is the first proof that there is an association between genes and their
role in the individual performances of racehorses. The study is currently
available on the journals website and will be produced in printed format
In what is the largest published
equine genetics study of its kind, Dr Stephen Harrison and Mr Juan Luis Turrion-Gomez,
detected variations in eight athletically important genes in DNA samples,
taken from 1000 thoroughbred racehorses, including classic winners. Each thoroughbred
breeding line possesses different variant combinations of these performance-related
genes. Each combination gives a horse a different racing aptitude, i.e. one
horse may possess the gene combination of a sprinter, while another horse
will have a combination best suited to a distance of 3200m. These gene combinations
form part of a group that is inherited solely from the dam on a molecule called
mitochondrial DNA. The genes contribute to biochemical systems involved in
energy release and respiration in the muscles and have a direct impact on
the optimum performance of a racehorse. Thoroughbred Genetics 1stBloodâ
data is unique and this information cannot be derived through traditional
Dr Harrison and his team have
been able to identify the genetic types of all big race winners in the major
racing nations going back over the last 100 years.
In the Mitochondrion study,
trends observed for the genetic types of winners of 21 of the UKs premier
races indicate significant leanings of certain genetic types and carriers
of specific gene variants to perform well over specific distances. For instance,
in Australia, a potential Melbourne Cup winner (3200m) is more likely to be
of a different genetic type to a Doncaster Handicap (1600m) winner. The 1stBloodâ
data also shows that over the last 100 years, the highest percentage of Derby,
Guineas or other premier race winners comes from a particular genetic type
suited to the respective distance and sometimes the racecourse itself. Dr
Harrison says: We anticipate that the data will help trainers identify
from day one, optimum running distances for horses, develop appropriate training
regimes and target specific races which will suit the horses individual
The study has also allowed the
team to make genetic corrections to historical errors in the thoroughbred
studbook. By identifying genetic types, over half of all recognised female
family lines, are shown to have been incorrectly recorded to some degree,
some errors appearing to be as recent as the late 1970s (before genetic parentage
testing). This is alarmingly more so than first thought. Dr Harrison: This
means that we can more accurately assess which versions of these important
genes particular horses will carry and tailor their breeding and racing careers
to make the most of their genetic capability.
Thoroughbred Genetics has constructed
genetic databases which, when used in conjunction with their complementary
mPOWERâ DNA tests, will vastly improve the ways in which breeders co-ordinate
the mating of stallions and mares through the better matching of stamina components.
Certainly, it is also clear that there are positive and negative interactions
between certain sires and mares of particular genetic types.
The study has also thrown up
interesting results regarding the effectiveness of the different genetic types
at various racing ages and the relationships of the genes studied in the publication
to other similar genes involved in muscular energy release.
Dr Harrison: Breeding
racehorses is a high risk, multi-million dollar industry. A high percentage
of racehorse breeders fail to recoup their investments. Many foals produced
are bred inappropriately and fetch poor prices at sales. A large proportion
fail to reach the racecourse and the vast majority never win a race. With
an estimated global expenditure of US$3bn on stud fees annually and individual
stallion fees running as high as US$600k, this is an expensive and precarious
business. The odds have for too long been stacked against the breeder, so
use of advanced genetics techniques to modernise traditionally-based breeding
programmes can narrow down the quest to produce a truly brilliant horse. Racehorse
breeding has effectively been fast-forwarded 200 years into the 21st century.
These findings are only
the tip of the iceberg. They form part of a larger study which has allowed
Thoroughbred Genetics to develop genetic databases covering national racing
in the USA and Australia, which vary in their racing requirements from Europe.
For further information on 1stBloodâ,
Thoroughbred Genetics, its products and services for the international bloodstock
and racing industries please contact +44 (0)1795 411544 or firstname.lastname@example.org Visitors may download additional information from the website: www.thoroughbredgenetics.com