A team of scientists in Ireland claim to have successfully traced the so-called "speed gene" in Thoroughbred horses back to a single ancestor: a mare bred in the UK in the 17th century.

To investigate the gene's origins, researchers from University College Dublin analyzed DNA from 22 Eurasian and North American horse breeds, museum specimens from 12 "historically important" thoroughbred stallions, 330 elite performing modern thoroughbreds, 40 donkeys, and two zebras.

"We first started looking in the stallions because that's where we had anticipated finding it. But when we didn't, we then had to go searching further afield," the study's senior author, Dr. Emmeline Hill, explained to The Irish Times.

Information about the composition of the gene, which affects muscle development, can be used to predict a horse's stamina and top speed over different distances, and, in so doing, to win baby a new pair of shoes.

When asked to provide a comment, horses responded that thinking about their mothers made them feel depressed.

[Image via AP]