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EDITIONS
 Thursday, 26 December, 2002, 01:34 GMT
Research aims to find racing greats
racehorse
The test could identify the fastest horses
A genetic test is being developed that could help identify the fittest and fastest racehorses in the UK.

Researchers in Newmarket have told BBC News the test will enable trainers to tell which horses are natural sprinters, those which are better suited to longer distances and those that are no-hopers.

The art of bloodstock agents has been passed down through generations.

Horses are always selected for their physique and temperament.

But the prospect of a genetic test for a horse's speed and endurance could turn that art into a science.

Grey area

Researchers at the Animal Health Trust in the town are comparing the DNA of sprinters with that of longer distance runners.

They hope to identify the key genes that make horses more likely to be champions.

Scientists say that a reliable test is still some years away.

BBC science correspondent Pallab Ghosh said the test, once developed, would be an aid to the racing industry but it is unclear how the bookies are likely to react.

Earlier this year, researchers at the Animal Health Trust used DNA samples from a stallion called Paris Match, and his many offspring, to find the location of the gene that gives all grey horses their distinctive coat.

The discovery was part of a project to map the horse genome.

As well as giving a clue to what makes a great racing horse, it could help explain why a type of skin tumour, or melanoma, is common in grey horses.

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  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Pallab Ghosh
"Identify which horses are natural sprinters"

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See also:

09 Oct 02 | Science/Nature
16 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
06 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
18 May 01 | Science/Nature
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