Equinome genetic test doubles accuracy in predicting elite thoroughbred racing potential
16 June 2015
EquinomeTM, the world leader in equine performance genomics, has released a new and comprehensive genetic test to more accurately predict elite thoroughbred flat racehorse performance.
The Equinome Elite Performance Test v2.0 more than doubles the accuracy in predicting elite thoroughbred racing potential than if using pedigree alone, and will assist bloodstock professionals in their selection of horses with the greatest chance of elite success.
The test was developed by Equinome’s research team led by Dr Emmeline Hill, using genetic information from the DNA of more than 2,000 thoroughbred racehorses from Europe, Australasia, South Africa and North America, including more than 500 elite racehorses with handicap ratings over 100.
The test scans 70,000 genetic variants on every horse submitted for analysis – more than any other test currently on the market – in search of those relevant to elite performance.
UCD spin-out company founded in 2009
Equinome a University College Dublin (UCD) spin-out company was co-founded in 2009 by Dr Emmeline Hill, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science and Jim Bolger, the Irish horse trainer and breeder. The company is headquartered at NovaUCD, the university’s centre for new ventures and entrepreneurs.
Dr Hill said: “The test was developed using modified statistical algorithms that have been so successfully applied to livestock animal breeding. Genomic selection has revolutionised the pig, dairy and beef breeding sectors and we expect that similarly the Thoroughbred industry will gain significant value from the integration of this major advancement in genomics science.”
Studies have shown that the genetic requirements for sprinters are different than that of stayers, so the test utilises the horse’s EquinomeTM Speed Gene genotype to narrow the focus to the genes most relevant to sprinters, middle-distance or stayers to produce a genomic racing value.
Additional scores are provided for sprint, middle-distance and stamina ability to provide an insight into an individual’s specific strengths.
Along with the potential for racecourse success, the Equinome Elite Performance Test v2.0 provides a genomic breeding value that represents the potential for a broodmare or stallion to produce offspring with a greater aptitude for elite success based on the number of favourable genetic variants an individual may pass on to their progeny.
Most recently, the dam of this year’s Irish 1000 Guineas winner, Pleascach, bred and trained by Equinome director Bolger, was tested to have a genomic breeding value of one (highest possible score).
Breeders often evaluate a pedigree page to try to determine the extent of inbreeding for an individual, inferring this mostly from the duplicate ancestors in the pedigree.
Equinome’s research has found that pedigree evaluation is not a true reflection of the actual level of genomic inbreeding, which is a measure of the proportion of identical duplicate genetic variants inherited from both the sire and dam.
By analysing the DNA of a cross-section of the Thoroughbred population Equinome researchers have been able to determine the highest and lowest levels of genomic inbreeding that exist in the population.
Genomic inbreeding score used to inform future mating decisions
Now, the Equinome genomic inbreeding score can definitively identify the actual level of inbreeding in the genome of a thoroughbred horse which can be used to inform future mating decisions. The level of genomic inbreeding is not always reflected by the number of duplicate ancestors in the pedigree.
The Equinome Elite Performance Test v2.0 enables bloodstock professionals to identify individuals with the greatest genetic potential for elite racecourse and breeding success at any stage in their career.
The information, when combined with other key selection criteria such as conformation, temperament and veterinary checks, provides the most accurate picture of a horse’s elite potential.
The first version of the EquinomeTM Elite Performance Test v1.0 was launched in 2011 and has already proven to be a valuable tool for clients worldwide in the identification of horses with the greatest potential to be elite performers.
From 590 individuals tested in advance of the 2014 yearling sales in Australia, horses with the highest genetic score (Class I) were nine times more likely to have won a race at two years old than if they had the lowest genetic score (Class IV).
Dr Hill added: “The new version of Equinome’s Elite Performance Test represents another transformative step forward in our understanding of the genes contributing to athletic ability in the thoroughbred. Genetics should be recognised as just one of many components that contribute to the development of an elite racehorse and as the technology continues to develop, genetic information will become increasingly important to maintain a competitive edge.”http://www.engineersjournal.ie/2015/06/16/equinome-new-genetic-test/http://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/hill1.jpghttp://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/hill1-300x300.jpgNewsgenetics,NovaUCD,UCD