Using DNA to pick a winner
The reason, they say, the Irish breed great race horses, is the limestone bedrock that stretches from the Curragh across the midlands to the Golden Vale in Munster. But, while that may very well be the case historically, the future of horse racing performance is more likely to be in the hands of UCD genetic scientist, Dr Emmeline Hill, whose spin-out company, Equinome, uses genomics technologies to examine panels of DNA variants that have been identified as being critical to racing performance.
Through this research, Hill has identified the ‘speed gene’ and more recently has
traced its origins.
Equinome was co-founded in 2009 by Dr Hill in partnership with Jim Bolger, the renowned Irish trainer and breeder. It has succeeded in securing major clients in the bloodstock industry for the Equinome Speed Gene Test, the Equinome Elite Performance Test and the Equinome Projected Height Test, and now has clients in over 15 countries across the world, among them two of the top five global Thoroughbred operations.
This global reach is supported through the company’s headquarters at NovaUCD and its Australian office. Equinome is also is planning to open an office in the USA.
In recognition of the global success and impact which Equinome has achieved in the international, multi-billion euro Thoroughbred horse racing and breeding industry Dr Hill was presented with the 2014 NovaUCD Innovation Award.
Presenting the award, UCD President, Professor Andrew Deeks said, “Equinome, established to commercialise world-class UCD research outputs, is an excellent example of a UCD spin-out company with global reach and sales.
Equinome has already significantly changed breeding techniques in the global Thoroughbred industry, which had until then remained unchanged for hundreds of years.”
To date thousands of samples from past and future Champions have passed through Equinome’s laboratories at UCD on their way to the winning post and this is set to continue as Equinome successfully underwent an acquisition by Plusvital, the Irish equine nutrition company, at the end of 2015