‘the birth was very moving’
A clone of the legendary show jumping rider Arko III was born in the United States, seven months after the stallion’s death.
The foal, which arrived in August, is the result of a combined effort by UK-based genetic preservation company Gemini Genetics, and its partner ViaGen Pets and Equine in the US.
“It was an extremely sad day for our family when we lost Arko, he was truly the horse of a lifetime,” said a joint statement from Pat, John and Lisa Hales of Shaw Farm Stud, owners of Arko and of his clone.
“The birth of her clone was very moving. We believe this is not only exciting for our sport around the world, but especially for the future of British breeding for years to come. We look forward to breeding many more champions of this wonderful lineage. “
The clone was generated from a small sample of Arko skin, genetically conserved by Gemini Genetics, the sister company of Stallion AI Services. The sample was then shipped to ViaGen Pets & Equine in the United States.
Gemini Genetics Director Lucy Morgan, who undertook the preservation, said H&H the clone will remain at ViaGen’s facilities in the United States until weaned, at the earliest.
She added that plans for his competitive future had yet to be decided, but stressed that the main intention was for him to be a breeder.
“We are delighted with the successful birth of the Arko clone,” she added. “A stallion much appreciated for his exceptional performance and his unique and vibrant character, it is great to have allowed his cloning so that his exceptional legacy can continue. Gemini Genetics is thrilled and very privileged to have facilitated this amazing rebirth of Arko III through its genetic twin.
Ms Morgan clarified that there was no issue with the quality or availability of Arko’s sperm, but rather that the decision to clone was to take the opportunity to preserve his genetics for the future.
“There is a lot of sperm left, but you would never be able to breed another Arko with the exact same genetics. [other than by cloning]because 50% of the DNA would be different, ”she said.
The original Arko (Argentinius x Beach Boy) won grand prizes across the world with rider Nick Skelton. The duo finished 10th individually at the 2004 Athens Olympics and represented Great Britain at the 2005 European Championships. Arko was also the horse Nick credited with putting him back in the saddle after breaking. neck in a horseback riding accident in 2000.
Their many victories included the sport’s richest prize, CN International at Spruce Meadows. Arko won the title of best British rider of the year five times, before retiring from competition in 2008. He retired from stud in 2019 and died in January 2021.
His offspring includes John Whitaker’s current stable star Argento as well as SFS Aristo of the Hales family.
Blake Russell, President of ViaGen Pets & Equine, said the company has delivered over 1,000 “healthy and cloned foals” to their customers and “every project is really special.”
“The ability to play a role in the reproduction of a phenomenal genotype like Arko III is what makes our efforts worthwhile,” he said.
“We are very happy to see it grow and develop and leave its mark on the industry. It is a real pleasure to work with great partners like Gemini Genetics and their sister company, Stallion AI Services, to help bring our services to customers around the world.
“The relationships we have developed with partners like Gemini Genetics are what make this business work for everyone. Hope everyone can see that cloning technology is a powerful advanced reproductive technology which can bring great opportunities. “
Tullis Matson, Founder and Director of Stallion AI Services, added that it was “a privilege” to work with Arko and the Hales family for nearly 10 years of the stallion’s life.
“We are delighted to learn of the successful birth of his clone and are privileged to have been involved in this project through our sister company, Gemini Genetics,” he said.
“We look forward to the years to come of his clone, [and the benefits he will bring] to the performance industry and the livestock sector.
You might also be interested in:
Cloning is a concept that, for many people, is still shrouded in mystery. Here we bring you answers to some
Credit: Rhino Revolution
“I feel incredibly honored to be able to do this. I absolutely love it ”
Horse & Hound magazine, published every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and coverage, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet tips and training. Find out how you can take advantage of the magazine delivered to your door each week, as well as options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service which brings you the latest news and reports as well as other benefits.