University of Limerick student Alison Brassil has won the BETA Equine Thesis of the Year award. Her dissertation was titled The Effect of Paternal Age on Progeny Performance in Thoroughbreds.\r\n\r\nShe joined three other finalists, Lucy Morgan of Harper Adams University, Anna Williams of the Royal Agricultural University and Tegan Hemingway-Wood of Moreton Morrell College, at Equestrian House, Abbey Park, Warwickshire, on 11 November to present her thesis to the judging panel.\r\n\r\nAlison's dissertation aims to determine whether the proportion of successful progeny changes as stallion age increases. It was unanimously declared the winner by judges Dr Georgina Crossman, Dr Pat Harris, Ruth Bishop and Lucy Higginson.\r\n\r\nUsing extensive amounts of data and focusing on 20 stallions and 26,650 progeny over a 25-year period, Alison's research suggested that breeders could well benefit from breeding to younger stallions. Age did appear to have a significant effect on all parameters of racing performance. Noticeable decreases occurred after 16 and continued after 22 years. She also noted that the mechanism behind the effects of advanced paternal age was not clear and highlighted that this could be an interesting area for further research.\r\n\r\n\u201cI am absolutely delighted to win,\u201d said Alison. \u201cThe competition is great for students and the industry. I am passionate about racing and breeding in particular. I want to work in the Thoroughbred sector and, while I know that my study is just a scratch on the surface and there is still a lot of work to be done, I would like to think that people will find it interesting.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe runner-up was Tegan Hemingway-Wood with her thesis The Effect of Water Depth on Equine Limb Swing Phase Kinematics During Walk Exercise on the AquaIcelander Water Treadmill.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe standard of work has been extremely high, with presentations that took complex data and presented it in a way that was easy to understand,\u201d said Dr Pat Harris, chair of the judging panel.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe have examined the written thesis, the literature reviewed, the way that information was presented, the level of understanding and potential relevance to the industry, and felt that Alison and Tegan did very well in a number of these areas.\u201d\r\n\r\nClaire Williams, executive director of the British Equestrian Trade Association \u2013 which relaunched the competition to put undergraduate study back on the map \u2013 added: \u201cWe would like to congratulate our winner, runner-up and the other finalists, who did so incredibly well. It was lovely to meet them, their tutors and families who came along to show support. Our thanks must also go to all the preliminary and final judges, whose expertise and knowledge has made this all possible.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe Equine Thesis of the Year award was relaunched after a three-year break. The academic initiative was originally developed by Pat Harris and Graham Suggett in the late 1990s and designed to reward the good work done by equestrian undergraduates.\r\n\r\nEach of the finalists is available for interview and happy to answer questions on their thesis. \r\n\r\nWinner: Alison Brassil (University of Limerick), The Effect of Paternal Age on Progeny Performance in Thoroughbreds. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org\r\n\r\nRunner-up: Tegan Hemingway-Wood (Moreton Morrell College), The Effect of Water Depth on Equine Limb Swing Phase Kinematics During Walking Exercise on the AquaIcelander Water Treadmill. Email: email@example.com.\r\n\r\nFinalist: Lucy Morgan (Harper Adams University), Equitation Science in the Equine Industry \u2013 Horse Riders' Understanding of the Learning Theory in Equine Training. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.\r\n\r\nFinalist: Anna Williams (Royal Agricultural University), The Effect of Soaking on the Populations of Acidic Bacteria Found on UK Meadow Hay \u2013 Possible Implication for Equine Gastric Ulceration. Email: email@example.com.