Learn about the "speed gene" as geneticist Dr. Emmeline Hill joins Elise Gaston Chand Friday, July 19.
World-renown equine geneticist Dr. Emmeline Hill has been shaking up the Thoroughbred racing industry for nearly a decade with her cutting-edge work in the field of equine exercise genomics. Emmeline’s [EH1] research led to the development of a test which can predict an individual horse’s optimal race distance by examining their DNA.
Emmeline grew up surrounded by horses. Her grandmother Charmian Hill was an avid rider, breeder and trainer, whose best-known horse was the prizewinning Thoroughbred mare Dawn Run. Emmeline found herself fascinated by horse breeding and trying to predict why one horse could run faster than another.
Determined to learn the answer, Emmeline studied human population genetics at Trinity College Dublin, because at the time equine genetics was not a common course of study. She decided to take what she had learned about humans and apply it to the study of genetics in horses.
In 2010, Emmeline first published research which identified that a sequence variant in a horse’s myostatin gene was predictive of racing distance ability. In collaboration with trainer Jim Bolger, she founded Equinome Ltd., which offered a genetic test based on this research.
In Emmeline’s latest study, published in the Veterinary Ireland Journal, she established a clear relationship between a horse’s specific “speed gene” type and their career earnings by distance. The “speed gene” influences the development of muscle mass in horses and is a more reliable predictor of racing performance than pedigree. Using the results of a simple genetic test, Emmeline’s research shows that we can predict whether a horse will be a sprinter, miler or stayer, and other tests can show if they will do better on dirt or turf tracks.
Emmeline is an associate professor of equine science at University College Dublin and the Chief Science Officer for Plusvital Ltd., a world leader in the development and provision of genetic tests for the international Thoroughbred horse racing and breeding industries.
About Because of Horses
Each week, Elise Gaston Chand connects the horse world with informative and entertaining conversations about horses, horse-people and the equestrian life. Because of Horses is the horse-lover’s podcast for listeners worldwide, sharing notable equestrians’ personal stories, challenges, triumphs and expert insights, as well as timely topics and exciting event information from around the globe.Because of Horses is an American Horse Publications award winner and is the official podcast of the Hampton Classic.