Speed and stamina, unraveling the genetic code

Emmeline Hill: associate professor of equine science at University College Dublin and chief science officer at Plusvital Peter Houlihan / Fennell Photography
Irish Times

The ‘speed gene’ is the main determinant of why some horses are born sprinters and others are born stayers. That is according to a new study led by UCD associate professor of equine science Emmeline Hill, who is also chief science officer at Irish equine science company Plusvital. The research, published in the Equine Veterinary Journal this week, analysed the genetics and race records of over 3,000 thoroughbred racehorses who raced in Europe, Australia, South Africa and the US.

It found that the myostatin gene or ‘speed gene’ is the almost singular genetic determinant of a horse’s optimum race distance. The notion of a single gene being responsible for a performance trait in thoroughbreds has previously been challenged. However, Professor Hill said the new study ended any dispute over the central role of the ‘speed gene’. “We have replicated and validated our original research findings on a massively larger scale,” said Hill. read the full article here