The birth of the world's second horse clone has been announced by scientists.
Pieraz-Cryozootech-Stallion is described as healthy and vibrant
The foal is a copy of a world endurance champion, Pieraz, an animal that has been castrated and was therefore incapable of normal reproduction.
The research was undertaken by genetic engineering labs Cryozootech of Evry, France, and LTR-CIZ of Cremona, Italy, where the foal is being kept.
The World's first horse clone Prometea, was produced by the same group of researchers in 2003.
The new clone, called Pieraz-Cryozootech-Stallion, was born on 25 February, weighing 42kg.
He will not be used for competition himself, but will instead make his living siring new generations of horses.
Pieraz, the donor of the genetic material used to create the foal, reached the top of his equestrian discipline in 1994 and 1996. He is owned by the Kanavy family of Fort Valley, Virginia, US.
In 2002, Valerie Kanavy heard about cloning and immediately liked the idea that her champion could transmit his qualities to future generations despite being castrated.
No horse clone had yet been born when she allowed a horse physiologist to perform a biopsy on Pieraz and store the tissue sample in nitrogen.
The same researchers produced the first horse clone in 2003
"The original horse is a champion with a good record, but was gelded, so couldn't have any offspring," said Professor Galli of LTR-CIZ.
"In these cases, the best horses are never bred, so they do not contribute to genetic progress. What we have achieved overcomes this problem; in two or three years, the cloned foal can be used as a stallion."
Endurance riding involves racing at controlled speeds over distances of many tens of kilometres.
The sport is popular world-wide with a very keen following in the United Arab Emirates, where local horses are known for their stamina.
Currently, international rules do not permit artificial insemination, or any kind of fertility treatment, for the production of thoroughbred race horses.
This is not such a great restriction in flat racing because the champion horses of the turf are rarely castrated; the best stallions and mares will be sent to stud at the end of their careers to breed the next generation of top horses.
Prometea today (front)
But the proponents of cloning say the copying technology could be useful in those sports frequented by animals that are often gelded at a young age and have no ability to reproduce normally.
Cryozootech has a bank of genetic material from more than 30 horses that have excelled in various equestrian disciplines, such as jumping and dressage.