MEET THE TEAM
BVMS CertEM(StudMed), CertAVP, MANZCVS (Surgery of Horses)
In 2008 I achieved the British Royal College of Veterinary Certificate in Equine Stud Medicine and am now working through Liverpool Veterinary School Lameness and Diagnostic Imaging modules for a second certificate. Having being inspired by the extensive use and impressive results in Kentucky, I undertook the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society course. Additional qualifications include the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination and the Kentucky State License examination.
Almost obsessively, I take every opportunity to improve my veterinary knowledge and develop a wide range of skills. With great passion for the veterinary profession, I continue to spend time with leading veterinarians around the world, with particular interests in diagnostic imaging. I also pride myself on studying and researching important topics, and have presented and published work on infectious arthritis (‘joint ill’), angular limb deformities in foals, Rhodococcus infections(‘rattles’), MRI of the navicular region and 3D ultrasound of the ovary.
Other high points in my career have included voluntary work teaching and operating in Morocco and Egypt as a way of passing on knowledge, making a real difference to less privileged people and animals and gaining more experience in equine disease and surgery.
I have been fortunate in my career to have had many excellent jobs internationally and to have worked with some world-renowned and inspiring veterinarians. After completing a racing-based internship in England, I went on to do a surgery internship in Australia and a Sydney University Post Graduate Foundation course in Equine Surgery. I then completed 13 back-to-back stud seasons between the Hunter Valley, Newmarket, Kentucky, Victoria and Ireland before settling permanently in the Hunter Valley.
These positions included racetrack and stud work with the Newmarket Equine Hospital; a wonderful two seasons as resident veterinarian for Swettenham Stud in the Hunter Valley; a medicine fellowship at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, and ambulatory stud and sale work in Kentucky; a season with the Goulburn Valley Equine Hospital, based in Nagambie, Victoria, and time in Ireland working with both flat and National Hunt horses and I was privileged to spend that season servicing Ballymacol Stud.
BVetMed(Hons) CertAVP MRCVS
Chris graduated from The Royal Veterinary College in 2005. After working in primary equine practice, he undertook medicine, surgery and reproductive internships at Rossdale and Partners, Newmarket.
This was followed by a further 6 years at Rossdales and Partners where he provided reproductive veterinary care for stud farms including Juddmonte farms, Newsells Park Stud, The Royal Studs and Cheveley Park Stud. Alongside his routine work, he was heavily involved in stallion reproduction and subfertility management.
Whilst at Rossdale and Partners he also developed the practice's semen freezing service and approved semen freezing laboratory, and was significantly involved in the practice's artificial insemination and embryo transfer programmes.
In 2011, Chris was awarded the Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice, focusing on equine soft tissue surgery.
For the last 7 years, Chris has been managing veterinarian for Waikato Stud in New Zealand. Chris's main interests include all aspects of reproductive medicine and yearling preparation alongside stallion reproduction and subfertility examinations, subjects for which he has presented internationally.
He is an approved consultant for first season subfertility insurance and has held an advisory position for the NZEVA.
Outside of work, Chris breeds Thoroughbreds and has had notable success with breeding the recent Queensland Derby winner.
BVSc/BVetBio (Hons 1), DipECEIM, EBVS
Diplomate, European College of Equine Internal Medicine, European and Australian Specialist in Equine Internal Medicine
Sarah is a boarded European specialist in equine internal medicine and joined Hunter Equine Centre in May 2020 after spending the previous 2 years at Rainbow Equine Hospital, a busy 22 vet referral hospital in North Yorkshire, UK. During her time there Sarah completed the second half of her residency in equine internal medicine that was split between Rainbow Equine Hospital and Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga where she had worked for the previous 4 years. During her time in Wagga Wagga, Sarah initially completed an 18-month internship in medicine, surgery and reproduction before focusing on internal medicine.
Sarah's main interests are neonatal medicine, ophthalmology, cardiology and workup of poor performance cases including dynamic endoscopy, ECGs and managing muscle disorders. Sarah has relocated to Scone with her husband, son and dog to be closer to family, and is enjoying life in Scone as well as being part of the Hunter Equine Centre team and the busy Scone Thoroughbred scene, after an adventure filled couple of years in the UK.
BvetBio/BVSc – Senior Veterinarian
James grew up on a beef cattle property in northern NSW. After qualifying from Charles Sturt University in 2013 he undertook an internship at Goulburn Valley Equine Hospital. He has worked in equine practice since including as resident stud vet at Alabar Bloodstock, racing vet at Lindsay Park Euroa and artificial reproduction clinician in university practice. James is returning to Australia to join HEC after working for Rossdales in the UK focused solely on thoroughbred stud, racing and sales work.
James’ professional interests include stud and racing work, problem mare management, orthopaedic disease and pre-purchase examinations. He enjoys the involvement from conception through to racing and has been lucky enough to work with Classic and Group winning racehorses and broodmares in both hemispheres.
He is passionate about the Australian thoroughbred industry and looks forward to making Scone home with partner, and fellow vet, Jemima. Outside work James hopes to breed cattle, and also enjoys travelling and skiing.
Livia De Biase
MVB (Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine)
Livia graduated in 2015 from the veterinary University of Perugia, Italy. After graduation, Liv completed an 18-month internship in equine medicine and surgery at Troytown Grey Abbey, Kildare in Ireland. Afterwards she worked primarily in ambulatory practice in busy thoroughbred hospitals in Ireland.
Since 2019 Livia has been working between Kildangan Stud (Godolphin) in Ireland and here with us at Hunter Equine Centre, during the northern and southern breeding seasons respectively. Livia’s main interests are stud work and neonatology.
She is also currently completing the Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice through the Royal Veterinary College in the UK.
Liv is originally from Yorkshire and graduated from the University of Liverpool in 2019. From here she completed an 18 month internship at Rainbow Equine Hospital, a busy Equine Hospital in North Yorkshire in the UK, working alongside specialists in medicine, including our own internal medicine specialist Sarah; surgery, anaesthesia and diagnostic imaging.
During this internship she gained a lot of experience in all aspects of medicine, surgery and anaesthesia as well as reproduction and imaging. Liv joined the team at HEC in May 2021 and rapidly became a valuable member of the team covering in-hospital anaesthesia, both routine and emergency ambulatory calls and stud work.
She has a particular interest in anaesthesia and medicine cases and is looking forward to getting stuck into the breeding season. Outside of work Liv enjoys running, good food and travelling!
Since graduating from the University College of Dublin, Jane has worked in Ireland at Fethard Equine Hospital, Tullyraine Equine Clinic and most recently at Mullingar Equine, a busy stud medicine ambulatory practice.
Jane will be an important cog in the HEC wheel and will cover stud work, first opinion ambulatory work, in house lameness work ups and anaesthesia in our hospital. The forthcoming season will be Jane’s first in Australia.
Nikki joined Hunter Equine Centre in 2018 and was an integral part in managing the build of our new and exciting facility. In 2001 Nikki graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Equine Science and moved to Australia in 2005 after working for Tweenhills Farm Stud and Three Counties Equine Hospital.
Following 15 years working within the Thoroughbred breeding and nursing industries in New Zealand and Australia, Nikki is now an essential part of the team at HEC as our tireless Practice Manager.
BSc (Hons), Cert IV VN, Cert II AS.
As a child Anna had a passion for horses, this passion took up every minute of her time when not in school. It seemed only natural for her to pursue a career with horses so she chose to study Equine Science and Thoroughbred Management, graduating with a degree in 2013 from Oxford Brookes University. During her degree she took a placement year in Australia working at Eliza Park for the breeding season and then onto Arrowfield for the yearling season, this is where her love for the country and the industry began.
After graduating, Anna completed a yearling prep and sales season for Watership Down stud before spending 2 years working at Lanwades stud in the UK. She also did multiple freelance sales in both Newmarket and Deauville.
Australia was however always in the back of her mind and as soon as the opportunity to return arose in 2016 she took it.
Anna worked for a short time at Arrowfield stud before going to Newgate stud for two years, throughout this time she became fascinated in the veterinary side of the industry. Anna decided to follow a career path into vet nursing and accepted her dream job at Hunter Equine Centre in March 2019 where she has since qualified as a vet nurse.
When not at work Anna loves to travel the world, visit family in England and spend time with her fiancé Liam and their dog Mani.
Cert III EH, Cert IV VN
Sarah completed her Certificate 3 in equine husbandry before venturing into a career within the thoroughbred industry. In the last 10 years Sarah has worked for various Thoroughbred farms and racing stables across Australia and New Zealand with a main focus in yearling sales preparation. In March 2020 she returned to the Hunter valley where she started her career in vet nursing at HEC and completed her certificate IV in veterinary nursing. Sarah has become an integral part of the HEC team and also manages the pharmacy dispensary for the hospital.
Cert IV VN, Cert IV TAE, RVN, AVN, Dip Surgical Nursing
Jo’s veterinary nursing career has spanned 30 years with her main focus being equine foaling and equine surgery. Over the years Jo has gained valuable experience working in dual hemispheres foaling down approx 850 mares while working at Ellerston Polo Complex; Yarraman Park, a leading Hunter Valley stud in Australia and 2 back-to-back seasons at Ballymacol Stud, Ireland.
During a period of 20 years at Scone Equine Hospital Jo worked with both small animals and horses. In 2004 Jo moved to the equine surgical unit and into the role of head nurse and surgical supervisor working as surgical nurse, anaesthetic technician and department manager. In the 2020 season Jo joined the Hunter Equine Centre as a veterinary nurse primarily working in equine surgery and also returned to the role of foal night watch person for a local stud. Her other passion is training and education, and for the last 12 years, Jo has been involved in teaching a variety of animal care, veterinary nursing and equine subjects at TAFE NSW.
With her equine and surgical experience Jo has worked at the Hong Kong Jockey Club; delivered lectures and workshops throughout Australia, had publications in the Australian Vet Nurse Journal and in 2015 was the recipient of the Equine Veterinary Association Award for Excellence in Equine Nursing.
In her down time she enjoys gardening and travelling the world exploring diverse countries and cultures.
Vet Tech Diploma
Growing up Sandra spent all her time after school at the harness racing track in the Netherlands. She was determined to be a harness racing driver and trainer, and enjoyed great success in the Dutch racing industry. During this time her interest in equine medicine started to grow. Sandra graduated in 2005 as a veterinary technician from the Diermanagement College Barneveld in the Netherlands. She combined her study with working at Sportpaardenkliniek Wolvega.
After the 2008 Northern Hemisphere foaling season Sandra was sponsored by her clinic to travel to Australia to work as a vet nurse at the Intensive Care Unit of Scone Equine Hospital. What was meant to be just a job for the season turned out to be a 7 year adventure! Sandra met her husband Ben and eventually worked her way up to the position of Senior Nurse at the Intensive Care Unit where she was responsible for training new nurses and the overall smooth running of the hospital.
Sandra also worked a season at her family’s farm Riversdale as a foaling attendant on the weekends and during the week she cared for the newborn foals at Yarraman Park.
In 2015 Sandra, Ben and their 2 year old son Jack left Australia to be closer to her family in the Netherlands. There she worked at Paardenkliniek Emmeloord in the surgery department. They returned to Australia, now with two sons and their Labrador Boris in October 2020. Sandra joined Hunter Equine Centre in May 2021.
When she’s not caring for horses Sandra loves spending time with her young family and competing with her Labradors in Retrieving Trials.
Sarah Wills joined HEC in April 2019 in an administration role. Sarah is from New Zealand and has lived in Australia for over 20 years. She has worked in a hands-on role on thoroughbred studs and racing stables in New Zealand, Australia, USA, Ireland, Italy and Sweden. Sarah spent 11 years at Coolmore Australia as Stud Secretary before taking up CEO positions at Ballina Jockey Club and then Scone Race Club.