Bolger’s yard, the science of winning

A NEW product for the horse racing industry will allow trainers and breeders to judge the best distance and the age at which a horse will mature with out the horse ever even running.

A NEW product for the horse racing industry will allow trainers and breeders to judge the best distance and the age at which a horse will mature with out the horse ever even running.

A UCD’s spin-off company Equinome launched a genetic test that can identify individual thoroughbred horses with the greatest genetic potential for racecourse success.

Equinome was established in 2009 by Dr Emmeline Hill in partnership with Jim Bolger, the renowned Kilkenny based racehorse trainer and breeder. Headquartered at NovaUCD, the university’s Innovation and Technology Transfer Centre, the company also has laboratory facilities within UCD and at Jim Bolger’s training yard.

Mr Bolger was a friend of the Hill family and when he heard what Emmeline Hill was doing he allowed he access to the horses at his yard for research purposes.

Originally the project was a test for breeding horses and predicting the best distance for the offspring. All of the foals at Mr Bolger’s yard have been tested. The first Equinome foals will be going into training in 2013.

Horse racing is an increasingly scientific trade. Mr Bolger said “there is and will be more technology in everything to do with training. We already have blood sampling to indicate optimum well being of horses before racing. There’s also scanners and x-rays...”

Mr Bolger said that the Equinome test wouldn’t give anyone an unfair advantage. “The test is available to everybody,” said Mr Bolger so there is no way that it would provide anyone with an unfair advantage.

Despite all of the technology already at his disposal Mr Bolger said he was surprised by some of the data from Equinome. Mr Bolger explained 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. 25% of the time the horse would be a “stayer” and the other 25% it would be short course specialist.

Mr Bolger said the only way you would know is to take the test otherwise the trainer would have to find out on the gallops.