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Posted 11 June 2013

Official Japanese Racing Laboratory licences Equinome Speed Gene test

EquinomeTM, a University College Dublin (UCD) spin-out company, has signed an agreement with the Japanese Laboratory of Racing Chemistry (LRC) for the exclusive Japanese licensing of the Equinome Speed Gene Test. The agreement allows the LRC to be the sole provider of the Equinome Speed Gene Test to the Japanese bloodstock and horseracing industry.

The LRC is the official laboratory to the Japan Racing Association (JRA) and the National Association of Racing (NAR). It was established in 1965 as a non-profit foundation dedicated to protecting the integrity of Japanese horse racing, which currently includes the provision of DNA parentage verification services.

Pictured at the Equine Research Institute training track, Utsunomiya, Tochigi, Japan are (l-r); Dr Yutako Mizuno, President, LRC, Professor David MacHugh, UCD School of Agriculture & Food Science  and Scientific Director, Equinome, Donal Ryan, Managing Director, Equinome and Dr Teruaki Tozaki, Technical Advisor,  Genetic Analysis Department, LRC.

With 20,000 horses competing on over 1,500 race days each year, the Japanese horse racing industry is one of the largest and best-supported in the world. Japan is host to the third richest horse race in the world, the Japan Cup worth €3.6 million, and the world’s richest steeplechase, the Nakayama Grand Jump worth €1.9 million.

In recent years, Japanese-bred horses have emerged to contest, and win, many of the world’s premier horse races, and Japanese owners appear among the leading buyers at most of the major international bloodstock sales.

Scientists at the LRC previously tested 2,000 Japanese Thoroughbreds and validated the Equinome Speed Gene Test as a predictor of optimum race distance. The LRC studies also showed that the test can be used as an indicator of the rate of physical development in Japanese racehorses resulting in higher earning potential.

This is due to the unique arrangement in Japan whereby a horse must perform to a certain level as a two-year-old in order to compete at the highest level as a three-year-old. This scenario favours faster-maturing horses that are suited to the distances over which the two-year-old horses race.

The Equinome Speed Gene Test predicts the optimum race distance of a Thoroughbred horse through the analysis of the DNA at a particular point in a gene related to muscle development. The test was developed as a result of research performed by Dr Emmeline Hill from the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science at University College Dublin and was commercially launched in 2010. The test is now used by major racehorse breeders and trainers across the world to inform the development of racing and breeding programmes.

Dr Yutaka Mizuno, President of the LRC, said: “In the field of equine genetic research, especially Thoroughbreds, we have focused on Equinome and UCD because of the high quality of research that they have produced and their achievements to date. The business partnership between Equinome and LRC will contribute not only to the development of the LRC Genetic Analysis Department but also to the wider horseracing industry in Japan, in particular to Thoroughbred breeding and training. The LRC looks forward to continuing its strong relationship with UCD and Equinome in this respect.”

Speaking at the announcement in Japan, Donal Ryan, Managing Director, Equinome, said: “We are delighted that an organisation of such integrity and prestige as the Laboratory of Racing Chemistry has chosen to partner with Equinome for the provision of genetic tests to the Japanese industry for the first time.”

He added, “The Japanese bloodstock industry has quickly developed over the last forty years to become one of the strongest in the world, with two of the top seven horses in the current global rankings bred and trained there. Equinome is very happy to now partner with LRC for the provision of genetic technologies to Japanese breeders, trainers and owners.”

Equinome also offers a second performance genomic test to the Thoroughbred market – the Equinome Elite Performance Test – which identifies the genetic potential of a horse to perform at an elite level over different distances.

Equinome, an Enterprise Ireland supported company, works with many of the leading Thoroughbred breeding and training operations in Europe, North America, Australasia and Hong Kong. The company recently established a new base in Australia as a focal point for the company’s sales and marketing activities throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Equinome, a world-leading Irish equine genomics company, is a spin-out from University College Dublin (UCD) and is headquartered at NovaUCD, the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs.


(Produced by UCD University Relations)


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Official Japanese Racing Laboratory licences Equinome Speed Gene test
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