Legendary Kilkenny-based horse trainer Jim Bolger will appear on tonight’s episode of ‘Ear to the Ground’ to discuss the latest innovation in the horse-racing world.
RTE presenter Helen Carroll visits his yard in Coolcullen, Kilkenny and finds an efficient and potent blend of science, technology and old-fashioned racing acumen. Mr Bolger recently partnered with Dr Emmeline Hill, one of Ireland’s most prominent genomics scientists, to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each of his foals.
A company called Equinome developed a product which can predict potential for race course success. With a simple blood test, Mr Bolger takes the guesswork out of training the animals by identifying whether a foal will be best suited to short, fast or distance racing.
Equinome was established three years ago by Dr Hill in partnership with Mr Bolger – a family friend. It is based in NovaUCD, but also has a facility at the Bolger training yard. Horse racing has become an increasingly scientific trade. All of the foals at Mr Bolger’s yard have now been tested, with the first Equinome foals going into training this year. Jim Bolger, originally from County Wexford, has trained winners in many of the world’s biggest flat races. He has also mentored winning jockeys and trainers, with AP McCoy and Aiden O’Brien having apprenticed under him.
In a recent interview with the Kilkenny People, Mr Bolger revealed that he had been surprised by some of the data from Equinome. He said that if a middle distance stallion and mare were matched that the resulting foal would only have a 50% chance of being suited to middle distance. Seemingly, 25% of the time the horse would be a “stayer” and the other 25% it would be short course specialist.
Mr Bolger is already the subject of a documentary, ‘The Master of Cool’. The episode of Ear to the Ground will air on Thursday, January 10 at 8.30pm on RTE 1.