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Sprint to oblivion? Breeding selections pose threat to hardy Thoroughbred stayers

Sprint to oblivion?

Breeding selections pose threat to hardy Thoroughbred stayers

Nature-Strip-winning-Creswick-AAP
SPEED MERCHANT, NATURE STRIP

In Australia, where there is an emphasis on early two-year old speed, there were almost twice as many C:C horses among elite race winners in the population compared to Europe and North America (46% compared to 26% and 28%) and there were almost seven times as many C:Cs as T:Ts within the Australian population.

 

(LITTLE WONDER WE CAN PRODUCE SOME OF THE GREAT SPRINTERS OF THE MODERN ERA, WITH SO MANY C:C HORSES BRED IN AUSTRALIA, BUT THIS ALSO CLEARLY EXPLAINS WHY WE CANNOT PRODUCE HIGH QUALITY STAYING HORSES IN THIS COUNTRY. WINX ISN’T A STAYER EITHER BEFORE YOU GO FOR THAT ARGUMENT, SHE’S A MILER / MILE & A 1/4 HORSE. YES SHE WON A 2200M GROUP 1 QLD OAKS, BUT THAT WAS ON SHEER CLASS, AGAINST A WEAK FIELD, NOT ON STAYING ABILITY. TRUE STAYERS HAVE TO BE ABLE TO RUN 2400M-3200M+ IN A STRONG FASHION. OUR RACES DON’T CATER FOR STAYERS EVEN IF THEY DID – THE RACES WOULD BE FULL OF HACKS WHO CAN’T WIN ANY QUALITY OF RACES, SIMILAR TO WHAT BECOMES OF FLAT HORSES WHO FAIL THEN TURN TO JUMPING IN AUSTRALIA, OUR LOCAL BREEDING INDUSTRY DOESN’T BREED STAYERS, THEY BREED THE “C:C HORSES” AS MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE)

 

The hardy Thoroughbred stayer could become a thing of the past according to researchers, after findings published this week point to the importance of the so-called “speed gene” in determining race distance.

The findings are said to end any dispute over the central role of the “speed gene”.

However, the research has relevance for the wider Thoroughbred population, given the major influence of the gene.

“Since there is just one gene that is a major player in the sprinting versus staying stakes, it is extremely vulnerable to selection pressures,” says Associate Professor of Equine Science, Emmeline Hill, who is with University College Dublin.

“This has been recognised by the concern in the industry over the potential reduction in genetic diversity by favouring precocious, commercially attractive horses.

“This concern is well justified; the staying type is at serious threat of extinction in the global population.”

shocking-melbourne_cup.jpg
WAS SHOCKING’S MELBOURNE CUP WIN IN 2009 THE LAST TIME WE’LL SEE AN AUSTRALIAN BRED HORSE WIN THE WORLD’S / AUSTRALIA’S GREATEST STAYING RACE – THE MELBOURNE CUP???

Staying types have been found to make up less than 17% of elite race winners in Britain and Ireland and less than 7% of the Australian elite winning population.

“This is a complete reversal from the picture of genetics of the Thoroughbred 150 years ago.”

Hill says it is important that the industry incentivises the breeding and racing of stayers to ensure their ongoing viability in the industry.

Hill led the latest research into the gene, published this week in the Equine Veterinary Journal.

For the study, the genetic and race records of more than 3000 Thoroughbred racehorses who raced in Europe, Australia, South Africa and the USA were analysed. It was found that the myostatin gene, or speed gene, is the almost singular genetic determinant of a horse’s optimum race distance.

The notion of a single gene being responsible for a performance trait in Thoroughbreds has previously been challenged. However, Hill said the new study ended any dispute over the central role of the speed gene.

speed-gene-graphic.jpg
FIGURE #1

“We have replicated and validated our original research findings on a massively larger scale. The power in the numbers has shown that the association of the ‘speed gene’ with race distance is as statistically strong as the most highly genetically influenced traits in humans, including eye colour and the probability of an individual going bald,” she says.

The study found that, in Europe, more than 83% of ‘speed gene’ type C:C (sprint) horses had an optimum race distance of a mile or shorter and more than 89% of T:T (staying) horses ran best over distances greater than a mile. (Full details for all regions are in Figure #1)

The trend was consistent across all race regions but the race pattern influenced the distribution of the speed gene types.

In Australia, where there is an emphasis on early two-year old speed, there were almost twice as many C:C horses among elite race winners in the population compared to Europe and North America (46% compared to 26% and 28%) and there were almost seven times as many C:Cs as T:Ts within the Australian population.

The main differences between sprinters and staying type horses has been shown to be caused by a mutation in the speed gene that alters the rate of muscle growth and fibre type differences in the muscle.

Although myostatin is the most important gene, the latest research has also identified additional genes which have moderate effects on the staying ability of a horse.

Hill says the application of genetics to decision-making about how horses were trained and raced is transforming the industry.

“Our results clearly show that using evidence-based science will lead to more accurate placing of horses in races that are best suited to their genetic potential. Horses are a product of their inherited genetic characteristics as well as the environment.

“The management of the horse is inarguably key in any horse’s success, but DNA differences are the undisputed differences that make them individuals. This genetic information is leading to horses being trained and raced for their genetic potential and is providing a clear economic advantage to owners and trainers,” she says.

Hill, who is also chief science officer at Irish equine science company Plusvital, which provides genetic testing for horses, says the company does not operate its testing services in the sales environment which could further accelerate this trend toward sprint types at the expense of stayers.

“However, it is essential that the industry incentivises the breeding and racing of stayers to reduce the pressure to breed for the sales ring.”

BLACK CAVIAR #1.jpeg
THE WORLD’S GREATEST EVER SPRINTER BLACK CAVIAR

VIDEO: CLASSIC MELBOURNE CUP WINS

CLASSIC MELBOURNE CUP WINS

1997 – MIGHT AND POWER

 

1974 – THINK BIG

 

1977 – GOLD AND BLACK

 

1991 – LETS ELOPE

 

1992 – SUBZERO

 

1993 – VINTAGE CROP

 

1996 – SAINTLY

 

2005 – MAKYBE DIVA

 

2009 – SHOCKING

 

2010 – AMERICAIN 

 

 

Spring Feature: The Makybe Diva Stakes

2015 Makybe Diva Stakes

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The Makybe Diva Stakes is a Victoria Racing Club Group 1 Thoroughbred horse race at Weight for age conditions over 1,600 metres held at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Australia in September. Total prize money is A$400,000.

The Makybe Diva Stakes is a Group 1 event raced under weight-for-age conditions each year in September at Flemington racecourse in Melbourne. The race is run over a distance of 1600 metres and worth $400,000 in prizemoney. The 2014 Makybe Diva Stakes was won by Dissident from Fawkner with Puissance De Lune third.

Formerly known as the Craiglee Stakes, the race was changed to the Makybe Diva Stakes in 2007 in honour of champion mare and three time Melbourne Cup winner, Makybe Diva, and was upgraded from Group 2 to Group 1 status for the 2013/2014 racing season.

The Makybe Diva Stakes generally attracts quality gallopers and the race itself signals the beginning of better middle distance races to come during the Melbourne spring racing carnival.

Being over 1600 metres, the race distance can suit a solid sprinter or an up and coming stayer, and the roomy Flemington track with it’s long straight gives all types of horses a chance, whether they race on the pace or come from behind.

The Makybe Diva Stakes is the first group race over a mile for the new Victorian racing season and prturnbull stakes,ovides the ideal lead up race for the upcoming Gr1 Underwood Stakes at Caulfield and the Gr1 Turnbull Stakes the following month at Flemington.

In recent times the race has been a handy guide to future big race performers and is a race that sees classy performers go around year after year. Other group races on Makybe Diva Stakes Day include the Gr2 Danehill Stakes, Gr2 Let’s Elope Stakes and Gr3 Bobbie Lewis Quality.

Dissident (2014) won the Gr1 Memsie Stakes over 1400m at Caulfield before scoring a stirring victory in this event and recent Makybe Diva Stakes winners include Foreteller (2013) and Southern Speed (2012).

  1. Spring Carnival Guide
    The Makybe Diva Stakes is always a good guide to future big race winners during the spring and Foreteller (2013) headed to Caulfield to finish runner-up in the Gr1 Caulfield Stakes after tasting success in this event.

Glass Harmonium (2nd in 2011) managed to finish second in the Turnbull Stakes at Flemington before winning the Gr1 Mackinnon Stakes at the same track, while Midas Touch (3rd in 2011) went on to run third in the Underwood Stakes at Caulfield.

Shocking (2010) ran second in the Turnbull Stakes at Flemington before returning in the autumn to win the Gr1 Australian Cup at the same track, while Monaco Consul (7th in 2010) finished runner-up in the Gr1 Caulfield Cup at Caulfield the following month.

Typhoon Tracy (2nd in 2009) took out the Gr2 Tristarc Stakes on Caulfield Cup day before scoring a brilliant win in the Gr1 Myer Classic on Derby day at Flemington.

2014 Makybe Diva Stakes result
1. $2.70 Dissident 58.5 Ben Melham
2. $10.00 Fawkner 59.0 Nicholas Hall
3. $7.00 Puissance De Lune 59.0 Brad Rawiller

then followed
4. $11.00 Spillway 59.0 Damien Oliver
5. $4.00 Boban 59.0 Glyn Schofield
6. $31.00 Green Moon 59.0 Chad Schofield
7. $26.00 Sertorius 59.0 Ryan Maloney
8. $51.00 Super Cool 59.0 Glen Boss
9. $11.00 Messene 59.0 Dwayne Dunn
10. $61.00 Don Doremo 58.5 Darren Gauci

Margins: 1/2 hd, 3/4 len
Time: 1:36.29

Race name

  • 1948–2006 – Craiglee Stakes
  • 2007 onwards – Makybe Diva Stakes

RACE HISTORY

Race distance
  • 1948–1964 – 1 14 miles (~2000 metres)
  • 1965–1971 – 1 mile (~1600 metres)
  • 1972 onwards – 1600 metres
Race grade
  • 1948–1978 – Principal Race
  • 1979–2012 – Group 2 race
  • 2013 onwards – Group 1 race

Famous Previous race Winners

  • 1949 – Comic Court
  • 1950 – Chicquita
  • 1951 – Chicquita
  • 1965 – Light Fingers
  • 1966 – Tobin Bronze
  • 1969 – Rain Lover
  • 1979 – Dulcify
  • 1990 – Zabeel
  • 2002 – Northerly
  • 2008 – Weekend Hussler

2008 Makybe Diva Stakes- Weekend Hussler

2009 Makybe Diva Stakes- Vigor

2010 Makybe Diva Stakes- Shocking

2012 Makybe Diva Stakes- Southern Speed

2014 Makybe Diva Stakes- Dissident

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