SAA Experiences

Irish trainer Seamus Fahey Irish trainer Seamus Fahey, trainer of “Where’sBen?” has been involved with Tridelta Development Ltd. in the assessment  of Serum Amyloid A (SAA) for use in monitoring race horses.  

Seamus has been testing many of the horses in his stable twice a week between February 2009 and the present time to assess  the usefulness of the SAA test in a real-world racing situation.

As Seamus says, “I became convinced of the value of SAA testing from an early stage of the trial – we were seeing results  from the testing which gave us a real insight into how our horses were likely to perform.” Seamus reports that on several occasions, horses which he and his experienced team were happy with in terms of their performance in training and general medical condition were reported as having high levels of SAA – indicating that they had an inflammatory response taking place, even though there was nothing apparent. The horses were run and failed to perform up to expectations, as Seamus says, “We learned from experience that the SAA test showed us whether we could expect an on-form performance from the horse – if the SAA result was high coming into the race, then the horse inevitably did not perform to the levels we had expected, even although we had no other reason to suspect that this would be the case.”

The scientific literature in the area suggests that the group of proteins of which SAA is a member, Acute Phase Proteins can give a more accurate indication of the general condition of the animal than more traditional testing, a suggestion again supported by Seamus’ experience; “We ran some conventional lab. tests on some of the horses, because quite honestly, we didn’t believe what the SAA was saying –  we had high results but to all of our eyes, these horses seemed OK – no apparent problems, working and eating well.

The standard lab. tests all came back as normal and we ran the horses. The new SAA test was right again; the horses performed well below expectations and we began to realise that the test was a good indicator of how our horses were likely to perform in races. We have been involved with Tridelta in assessing the test for several months now and we now work on the basis that if the SAA is high, we don’t run the horse if possible; we let it recover and get to peak condition within itself. The proof of the pudding I suppose is that we have the test free of charge during the trial when the trial finishes, we will contine to have the test carried out and pay for it.”

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