By comparing the diversity of the chromosomes around the C and T type gene variants researchers found only a single C type compared to 11 different T type gene variants, meaning that the ‘speed gene’ entered the Thoroughbred just once.
“The results show that the ‘speed gene’ entered the Thoroughbred from a single founder, which was most likely a British mare about 300 years ago when local British horse types were the preeminent racing horses, prior to the formal foundation of the Thoroughbred racehorse”, said Dr Hill.
Collaborators in the study were scientists from Trinity College Dublin, the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. The research was supported by grants from The Horserace Betting Levy Board, Leverhulme Trust, Cambridge Overseas Trust and Science Foundation Ireland.
“I am very grateful for the support of our research. Ireland has been renowned as a leader in the production of world class racehorses for generations, and continues to lead now in the application of new scientific technologies in breeding and racing. We are seeing a shift globally to scientifically informed decision-making”, said Dr Hill.
The study was published by the scientific journal “Nature Communications”.