DNA Genotyping Project
During the 2002/2003 Season, the Australian Harness Racing
Council through its State Controlling Body Members introduced DNA Genotyping
utilising testing of hair samples to provide parental verification of selected
segments of the Standardbred herd. Council’s aim is to progressively extend
this requirement until the active breeding part and the resultant progeny are
all tested to ensure the integrity of the registration process for The
Australian Trotting Stud Book.
Following is a current Status Report
provided to AHRC Members, the Australian Standardbred Breeders Association and
its State Branches. This Report has been provided to the relevant
Committee at the World Trotting Conferences as a successfully
implemented Project from our Region.
Importantly, in the international breeding and standardbred
registration environment, the Registries of the United States Trotting
Association, Standardbred Canada and the Australian Harness Racing Council now
utilise a common Testing Laboratory and Service Provider -
Maxxam Analytics Inc
in Canada. In addition to the significant financial saving to all breeding
industry participants accruing from this commercial contract Australia’s
international reputation has been enhanced as a direct result of its
implementation. This report has been updated and released for our
industry’s information on
the role of Council’s staff and each State Controlling Body’s Registrar and
their staff which has been fundamental to the administrative success of the Project.
The co-operation and assistance of Australian Studmasters,
Breeders and Owners is gratefully acknowledged.
1 February 2007
DNA GENOTYPING PROJECT
The Australian Harness Racing Council developed a
comprehensive specification calling for Expressions of Interest from technically
capable firms in the DNA Genotyping area both throughout Australasia and in the
United States. A variety of submissions were received against the specification
As a result of this exhaustive investigation and discussions held Maxxam
Analytics Inc of Canada was chosen as Council’s service provider of DNA
Genotyping Services because of their internationally recognised expertise and
specialised technical knowledge together with their corporate standing in this
A commercial contract was negotiated as a result and executed by both
parties. The contract specified a schedule of implementation of testing the
Australian Standardbred herd commencing with the entire foal crop for the
2002/2003 season. Each State Controlling Body member of Council has instituted
this integrity program for the Australian Trotting Stud Book system of standardbred registration.
to right): Robert Wiebe, Business Development
Becky Hethrington, Customer Service Representative
Tony Fishback, Laboratory Supervisor
Sharon Zamin, Customer Service Representative
Bob Cote, Special Project Supervisor (IT) &
Wayne Murray , Operations Manager
Project Status & Achievement
As at the end of
January 2007 some 42,800+ hair samples for testing
were overseas in the Canadian laboratories of Maxxam Analytics through the
combined efforts of our Registrars (SCB and AHRC), Freeze Branders (who take the
required hair samples for testing) and others in the chain of custody in this
project’s implementation. To date 42,500+ have been
processed and 253 results
returned as exclusions.
project has highlighted the significant achievement in the development of the
project’s software from development to operational status. This includes barcode identification and wrapping of samples through
to test sample finished and invoicing. As expected, the small Project Group drawn from the
AHRC and RISE (HRV) has implemented and are modifying it constantly for emerging
issues particularly in relation to invoicing between Maxxams/AHRC/SCB’s.
||Incorrect database information on brands furnished by freeze branders.
||Incorrect recording of information on databases.
||Incomplete information and inaccurate information furnished.
||Insufficient DNA material in the hair samples for testing purposes.
||Limited contamination of VIAS blood library samples sent.
|No international standardised Panel of Markers for blood samples taken
and tested before 1998/1999 by VIAS.
No comprehensive national DNA hair sampling undertaken by stallions.
||Death of one or both parents of foals sampled.
|Decision to not test the whole standardbred herd but rather testing
planned by consecutive age segments to minimise industry cost.
||Individual information on each sample tested.
Importantly, the project
through its design has been
cleansing and correcting incorrect information on the National and State
databases thereby improving significantly its data quality. This is a minor problem
which enhances higher quality standard of data within our national systems
as a prerequisite to Council Members' integration of their State systems.
The AHRC has in a range of
negotiations in the establishment project phase concluded an agreement between Australian
Quarantine Inspection Service (various areas) and their equivalent in Canada
resulting in a changed regulatory regime. Discussions in Australia and
Washington (USA) have resulted in AQIS and Canadian authorities providing AHRC
Members initially with a twelve month permit provided that Maxxam Analytics and our
industry complies with a range of conditions. This is now a
continuing facility. AQIS Australia have confirmed
that they will not require Council to individually provide inspection regimes
and pay multiple application fees for all exports of hair samples for testing
to Canada. This is a significant administration and financial saving on our
shipments to Canada particularly as we have already confirmed our
significantly reduced fees for testing to our industry. This occurred as a
result of the Canadian Authorities banning hair samples for testing because of
fears of Australian horses (and their hair) having or being exposed to African
Horse Sickness. An action taken without any Australian equine industry
consultation. They were unaware that we had entered an extensive contract of
this nature with Maxxam Analytics. This outcome is a successful lobbying
arrangement by the AHRC office in conjunction with AQIS.
A number of retests
currently approximates some 800+ samples from the many thousands of
together with the previous library samples previously sent from the Victorian
Institute of Animal Science (AHRC’s previous blood testing laboratory) and the
lack of comparative international markers in the period prior to 1998/1999
when no generally acknowledged international standards were available.
Sire or dam exclusions
(either sire or dam do not match) as at end January 2007
now number around 198 and parental exclusions (both
sire and dam do not match – foal swap) now stand at 55 in number. Importantly, all queries resultant from testing are
extensively investigated by the Registrars in each State jurisdiction to
determine parentage at the request of the AHRC Registrar.
Computerised Recording System Development
Whilst the database and
sample identification information is continually being developed further there is
significant manual work being undertaken by the AHRC and the Registrars on the
area of horse information and, in particular, on invoicing to ensure correct
payment involving the thousands of samples are electronically traced and
billed accurately through this centralised process then
integrated with the
national HaRVEY computer system. This, in itself, is a major task being
undertaken carefully and rapidly under operational conditions.
Maxxams have responded well
in processing the significant numbers of samples coming in from all States,
together with the exceptions relating to exported horses, sale yearlings,
exclusions discovered and retests. Importantly all parties have developed the
“least cost” approach for our industry participants. Importantly, when
undertaking a major program of this nature the testing of all resident
stallions should be undertaken as part of the process. International
collaboration is also necessary to determine the markers for the stallions
providing imported chilled and frozen semen for artificial insemination into
Australian broodmares. This has been undertaken
co-operatively with other international jurisdictions.
In this report, I
would like to commend the work undertaken by the current Registrars and State
Controlling Body staff in controlling “the chain of custody” and
administratively processing the hair samples taken and shipped to Canada. The
enquiry load surrounding the implementation of this important “Integrity Project” has been
significant. Importantly, the volume of samples could not have been
technically undertaken by our other service providers for a variety of reasons
as has been achieved by Maxxam Analytics in Canada in their specialised standardbred
industry capability. In addition, the decision to consolidate the national
development of software with Racing Information Services Enterprise (RISE) and
our custody and logistics processes have been effective. Key future benefits will accrue with its
continuous integration into the AHRC/SCB systems in future. This project has
again demonstrated that quality control measures are again critically
necessary in the insertion of data into our systems. From collection to
testing, the rework and data rectification as a result of incorrect system
data is time consuming and wasteful of resources.
Maxxams & AHRC – Technology Partnership
The chosen service provider
Maxxam Analytics has been responsive to the regular and detailed enquiries of
all participant Members of the Australian Harness Racing Council with
promptness and efficiency. Importantly, in a partnership of this nature
customer service from both Maxxams and all State jurisdictions must be worked
on expeditiously and with professional adjudication for our industry breeder
participants. This international logistics project has overcome the barriers
of distance through an expeditious freight capability by
FedEx telecommunications and
effective computing development.
Common International Registries
It is important to note
that the DNA Genotype Registries of the Australian Harness Racing Council,
United States Trotting Association and Standardbred Canada are now on the same
database at Maxxam Analytics Inc. This is an important international
achievement for our industry. In addition, Council would like to thank the
Registries of the USTA, Standardbred Canada, for their assistance in the area
of racing standardbreds imported into their jurisdictions. The facilitation
provided, in particular, by the USTA was outstanding during the difficult
implementation transitional period.
This commercial agreement was
commenced in April 2002 when the Australian Harness Racing Council after taking
Expressions of Interest from companies involved in equine genotyping concluded a
commercial agreement with the Canadian company Maxxam Analytics Inc. This
was done after extensive international negotiations with government bodies in
Australia, United States and Canada. This company is also the long term
contracted service provider of genotyping services to the United States Trotting
Association and Standardbred Canada where many of Australasia's sires are
sourced. It is noted that this commercial arrangement complements the
usage of semen transportation throughout the Standardbred Breeding Industry
internationally and into Australia.
The introduction of this service
utilising hair samples for testing has been particularly successful with the
operation of Studmasters who are Members of the Australian Standardbred Breeders
Association and its State Branches, individual breeders and owners together with
the Registrars from the State Controlling Regulatory Bodies and Council
performing this valuable integrity function. In addition to promoting the
integrity of the industry's Trotting Stud Book nationally and internationally,
Council has developed significant Business to Business software with Racing
Information Services Enterprise to process the operational and accounting
transactions involved. These are fully integrated in the national HaRVEY
database. Since its inception this service has been singularly
successful with its international logistics and allowed standardbred
owners/breeders and each jurisdiction's registration staff to save considerable
money and resources.
As a result of this success, Council
commenced commercial negotiations in July 2006 with Maxxam Analytics with the
view to negotiate a contractual extension to the existing commercial Agreement
with the encouragement of the AHRC Executive. This has now been finalised
and Council has agreed to extend the Agreement from 1 January 2007 to 31 August
2012 realising the significant financial benefits to all industry stakeholders.
This will be in the millions of dollars since the initial execution of this
complex commercial Agreement from our industry's prior supplier over the
contractual period. These savings have been passed on to our industry in
the form of reduced charges through adopting the technical change to genotyping
the hair samples in the process identified above.
Council wishes to thank all
Australian stakeholders in the breeding process for their co-operation in
implementing this successful integrity project which when coupled with "Alpha
Angle" freeze branding ensures the genotyping identity and verification of the
Australian Standardbred Herd. In particular thanks to the Registrars, Council's
staff and RISE for their professionalism in the planning and scheduling of this
complex and logistically demanding project which has been effectively
implemented. Thanks must also be given to all Australian Studmasters,
Breeders and Owners for their invaluable assistance and co-operation in making
this important national project happen in a commercial manner.
Related Paper: The Australian Harness Racing Industry, Risk Management Initiatives
Updated: 1 February 2007