Thoroughbred breeding and pedigree theory can be a mysterious, difficult to understand aspect of the sport. Casual fans may make use of generalizations or even completely incorrect assumptions, when discussing a horse's breeding and how it may predict his or her aptitude on the track. In this book, Binns and Morris set out to right past wrongs, by improving race fan's understanding of Thoroughbred breeding theory. Fans will then understand why some matings are successful and others are not, why full siblings such as Barbaro, Nicanor, and Lentenor can be so different, and how grey horses earn that trait.
* Well-written explanation of pedigree theory and basic genetics
* Would appeal to both casual or long-time racing fans who need some help understanding the science
* Neither too technical or over-simplified, the reader is kept interested and will learn quickly
* The Thoroughbred's Obscure Origins; The Beginnings of Pedigree; Steps Forward and Back; The First General Stud-Book
* The First Analysts Have Their Say; Widening the Debate; Fresh Ideas Against a Background of Change
* Modest Progress Towards Enlightenment; Missed Evidence and a False Dawn; The Thoroughbred's Part in the Birth of Genetics
* From Mumbo-Jumbo to COmmon Sense; Enlightenment Remains Elusive; Why The Horseman Needs to Know Genetics
* The Equine Genome; Coat Colour I - Grey, a Dominant Trait; Coat Colour II - Mendel and Beyond
* Bruce Lowe Families and the Role of Mitochondria; Big Hearts, The X Factor and Tortoiseshell Cats
* The Musculoskeletal Systewm; Heritability of Athletic Performance; Genetic Drift and Inbreeding
* Nicks and Broodmare Sires; Selective Breeding
* The Genetic Health of the Thoroughbred and the Future of the Breed
Guide Review - Thoroughbred Breeding by Dr. Matthew Binns and Tony Morris
Racing fans wanting to learn about pedigree theory may find themselves frustrated with the amount of information and misinformation put out by the media and fellow fans. Many other books are either technical and complicated for the casual fan, or are oversimplified, glossing over important concepts that need understood. Genetics professor Dr. Matthew Binns and racing author Tony Morris have struck the right balance in this well-written work that appeals to fans of all levels of experience, including those without a science background.
No study of the Thoroughbred would be complete without looking at the breed's origins and how the present-day horses we see at tracks worldwide descended from the original ancestors, three imported stallions from the Middle East and a set of taproot mares from England. Before even starting any science lessons, the writers spend the first half of the book educating the reader on history. The reader will quickly learn how the stallions got to England, which mares were chosen to be bred to them, which men were instrumental in the beginnings of the breed, and the origins of the General Stud Book. Federico Tesio famously said, "The Thoroughbred exists because its selection has depended not on experts, technicians, or zoologists, but on a piece of wood: the winning post of the Epsom Derby." The direction of the breed was set by the introduction of the Epsom Derby restricted to 3-year-olds over the classic 1 1/2 mile distance. The reader will learn about the early research into pedigrees, such as Nicholas Smith's study of inbreeding, Bruce Lowe's numbering of female families by taproot mare, and Joseph Vuillier's study of sires, the forerunner to modern dosage theory.
Using easy-to-understand language aided by diagrams, the authors carefully explain basic concepts such as Mendelian genetics, the role of mitochondrial DNA, the recombination of genes during gamete formation, and the X-factor. With this understanding, it doesn't take long for the reader to see just how inexact "breeding the best to the best" really is. Full siblings only share 25% of genetic material, and the random combining of genes can easily result in two totally different individuals. A study quoted in the book explains that genetics contribute a mere 35% towards racing ability (using Timeform ratings as the standard). This means the other 65% comes from non-genetic influences from environmental variables such as nutrition, trainer, and jockey. This contrasts with coat color, which is completely determined by genetics. They explain that in the past, breeders did not send mares to stallions with apparent defects, but this is not the case today, where unsound horses are allowed to stand at stud thus propagating unsoundness, a very real concern in modern times.