THE new Racing Australia Equine Genetics Research Centre represents the strong future the horse industry has within the Upper Hunter Shire, according to deputy mayor Maurice Collison.
The nation’s first laboratory service of its kind was officially opened at Scone on Monday by Racing NSW’s Russell Balding and former chairman, and local identity, John Messara.
The facility – located within the Hunter Valley Equine Research Centre complex – will undertake DNA typing of all thoroughbred foals to confirm parentage and establish a unique pedigree that is accessible throughout its life.
It’ll also provide services to 30 other horse breed societies across Australia.
An estimated 20,000 tests will be analysed at the centre each year.
“Council is elated that Racing Australia chose to locate Australia’s inaugural equine genetics research lab at Scone,” Cr Collison said.
“This centre is a perfect example of business investment in the area.
“Through building this facility in Scone, Racing Australia has endorsed the importance of the region to the Australian thoroughbred breeding industry.
“Their investment is great for the economy, offering local employment for four staff – two of which are relocating to the shire, a third is already a resident in town; and a fourth regularly commutes to Scone from Sydney.
“On behalf of council, I’d like to congratulate those involved with the development of the Racing Australia Equine Genetics Research Centre; as well as their determination to enhance the integrity of Australian racing and breeding.
“Their commitment will help solidify Scone as the ‘Horse Capital of Australia’ and build on the proud history the shire has with the industry.
“And, it’s not just about racehorses either.
“The Upper Hunter produces, trains and spells a wide range of equine breeds, including heavy draught horses, those for carriage work, endurance and other sports such as polo, polocrosse, dressage, racing and recreational use.”
Hunter Valley Equine Research Centre chairman Bill Rose was thrilled with the facility’s location, ahead of Sydney or Melbourne.
“The establishment of the Equine Genetics Research Centre in Scone brings enhanced integrity to Australian racing and breeding,” he said.
“We are delighted Racing Australia has made the decision to establish a world-class facility in the heart of our thoroughbred breeding region.”
Dr Natasha Hamilton was appointed by Racing Australia as the inaugural director of the Equine Genetics Research Centre.
She has worked at the University of Sydney as a researcher and lecturer, most recently teaching neurophysiology and equine science within the Faculty of Science.
Dr Hamilton is also a contributing member of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities’ Gene Doping Control Subcommittee, the International Equine Genome Mapping Workshop and the International Society of Animal Genetics.
“Today is a proud moment for me – and my team,” she said.
“I am very grateful for the opportunity to become a contributing member of the industry that I have loved for so long and I am particularly excited about the research possibilities of this role.
“I look forward to working closely with industry participants to ensure Australia’s racing industry continues to be the world’s leading thoroughbred industry.”