The processing of all British thoroughbred DNA samples will be moved to Weatherbys’ laboratory in Ireland for the rest of the 2020 breeding season following discussions between the Animal Health Trust, Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association and Weatherbys.

As a result of the AHT being unable to give assurances that it could process samples for breeders at a time when certainty around service supply is vital, the decision was made to move processing to Ireland.

This month and next month will see a high volume of samples processed. Delaying the decision on sample processing could have had a serious impact on registration, passport production, horse identification and trade. The decision will be reviewed at the end of the year.

Veterinary practices have been notified of the change and will send samples to Weatherbys’ office in Wellingborough. Weatherbys will then be responsible for delivering the samples to its laboratory in Ireland.

TBA Chairman Julian Richmond-Watson told the Racing Post: “We’ve worked with the AHT for many years, but it has become apparent in the past few weeks that there is uncertainty over their ability to continue to process DNA samples.

“British breeders need their foals to be registered and the respective passports issued without delay. There are many early foals that need to be sampled and microchipped as soon as possible, for health, welfare and traceability reasons. Breeders should liaise with tier veterinary surgeons regarding this work.

“We are therefore pleased that through working with Weatherbys we have been able to redirect samples via Weatherbys to their laboratory in Ireland. The laboratory is starting with samples that have already been taken but are also ready for fresh samples.

“We have been assured of the integrity and the ability of this laboratory to process our samples and so I would like to thank Weatherbys for facilitating this process.”

Weatherbys Chief Executive Russell Ferris added: “The AHT’s relationship with Weatherbys goes back very many years and they have provided both us and thoroughbred breeders with an outstanding level of service when processing DNA samples for foal registration.

“However, our first priority has to be around the needs of thoroughbred breeders and ensuring that they are looked after at this, the busiest time of year, for foaling and the registration of foals.

“The processing of DNA samples is a central part of the registration procedure and having confidence around this element of work is critical at a time when there is already so much uncertainty.”