Australian racing’s first equine genetics research laboratory service will be established at the center of one of Australia’s premier Thoroughbred horse breeding districts, the Chair of Racing Australia, Frances Nelson QC, announced Oct. 25.

The Equine Genetics Research Centre will be located at Scone in New South Wales’s Hunter Valley.

“Locating these new laboratory facilities in the heart of one of Australia’s internationally recognized breeding regions makes perfect sense given the vital functions it will perform for the Australian Thoroughbred racing industry,” said Nelson. “The work of the Centre will be critical to the ongoing integrity of Australian racing. Its DNA testing underpins both the breeding and racing sectors of our sport.

“To ensure the Centre met world standards, Racing Australia worked with the International Society of Animal Genetics to successfully gain approval and institutional membership,” she added.

The new facility will be established within Scone’s Hunter Valley Equine Research Centre complex and is expected to be operational by April 2018. Building works are due to be completed by the end of this year.

Bill Rose, chairman of the Hunter Valley Equine Research Centre, welcomed the new facility.

“The establishment of the Equine Genetics Research Centre in Scone brings enhanced integrity to Australian racing and breeding and we are delighted Racing Australia has made the decision to establish a world class facility in the heart of our Thoroughbred breeding region” he said.

The Equine Genetics Research Centre will undertake DNA typing of all Thoroughbred foals to confirm parentage and establish a unique pedigree that is accessible throughout the horse’s life. It will also provide services to 30 other horse breed societies across Australia. An estimated 20,000 tests will be analyzed at the Centre each year.

Nelson also announced that Natasha Hamilton, BScAgr (Hons), PhD (Equine Genetics), has been appointed by Racing Australia as the inaugural director of the Equine Genetics Research Centre. Hamilton has worked at the University of Sydney as a researcher and lecturer, most recently teaching neurophysiology and equine science within the Faculty of Science.

She 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.

“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,” she said. “I look forward to working closely with industry participants to ensure Australia’s racing industry continues to be the world’s leading Thoroughbred industry.”