Paying high stud fees for a racehorse does not always buy the best genes says research published today (Wednesday 19 December 2007) in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh used pedigree data from over 4,000 racehorses to see whether stud fees - the price paid for a stallion to father a racehorse -are a useful measure of a stallion's genetic quality and its offspring's prize-winning potential. They found that while there are good genes to be bought, a stallion's fees are not an honest signal of his genetic quality and are a poor predicator of a foal's prize winning potential.

Dr Alistair Wilson, University of Edinburgh said: "Although there are certainly good genes to be bought, it is not necessarily true that you get what you pay for."

Thoroughbred horse racing is a multi-million pound international industry and there is an increasing importance being placed on using genetic tools to maximize breeding programmes. The ability to determine the genetic potential of a racehorse's parent may prove crucial to breed high-quality racehorses. However, stud fees are not just based on genes they also take into account a horses' racing career and performances. Breeders may therefore assume that if they pay higher stud fees then they are buying better genes, but this is only the case if the stallion's reputation is a true reflection of his genetic quality.

royalsociety

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