Thoroughbred Genetics Ltd., Kent March 18, 2006
IDENTIFY ‘PERFORMANCE GENE’ COMBINATIONS IN RACEHORSES
An organization based
in the UK has published ground-breaking genetic research which could have
enormous implications for the way thoroughbred racehorses are bred, trained
and raced. Thoroughbred
Genetics Ltd has published the results of a six-year study 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 publication is currently
available on the journal’s website and will be available in printed format
In 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, ie, one
horse may possess the gene combination of a sprinter, while another horse will
have a combination best suited to a distance of 1½ miles. 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.
Dr Harrison and his
team have been able to identify the mitochondrial DNA types of all big race
winners in the major racing nations going back as far as 100 years.
In the Mitochondrion study, trends
observed for the genetic types of winners of 21 of the UK’s premier races
indicate significant leanings of certain genetic types and carriers of
specific gene variants to perform well over specific distances.
For instance, a potential Derby winner (1½ miles) is more likely to be of a different genetic type to a 2000
Guineas (1 mile) winner. The 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 help target specific races which will suit
the horses’ individual genetic profiles.“
The study has also
allowed the team to make genetic corrections to historical errors in the
thoroughbred studbook. By
identifying mitochondrial types, over half of all recognized 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.”
has constructed genetic databases, which can be used in conjunction with
confirmatory DNA tests, to 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 specific 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
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 this work, Thoroughbred Genetics, its products and services for the
international bloodstock and racing industries please contact +44 (0)1795
411544 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The company’s updated website is located at www.thoroughbredgenetics.com
where visitors may download information and the current MITOCHONDRION
e n d s –
Media information please contact:
Ann Miller + 44 (0)1795 411544 or +44 (0)7973 233968.
Note to editors:
Thoroughbred Genetics Ltd is the first commercial organisation
in the field of equine genetics in the
world. We are
already building a strong clientele. Tests have been carried out on Classic
Graded race winners from UK, Ireland, France, Australia
and USA. In the past year alone, we have
advice for over 600 BLACK TYPE mare matings.
We have provided
information on the genetic status and management of GR1 races, including the
Derby, Oaks, Japan
Cup, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Eclipse, International, Moyglare, Fillies’
Matriarch, Yellow Ribbon, Beverly D and Test Stakes, the Beverley Hills
Oaks, Breeders Cup Turf and Mile and Melbourne Cup.
Thoroughbred Genetics, is based at Kent Science Park. It provides an
for progressive Thoroughbred breeders in both hemispheres. To enhance
practical information obtained from pedigree, commercial and performance
new, state-of-the-art DNA technologies to provide a thoroughly updated
mechanism for assessing breeding and
sales strategies for the 21st century.
analysis has been commonly applied to agricultural animals such as sheep and
to enhance their
genetic management and yields, yet thoroughbred breeding, which is itself a
has, largely been neglected by advances in DNA technology. Thoroughbred
changing that and is accelerating developments in equine breeding by
innovative, effective and dynamic genetic technologies to benefit thoroughbred breeding programs.
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