Bridget Bester


BVMS, CertEM (StudMed), MANZCVS (Surgery of Horses), CertAVP


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.

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.

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James Dawson

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. 


Sarah Gough

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BVSc/BVetBio (Hons 1), DipECEIM, EBVS

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.

Christopher Phillips

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 G1 Queensland Derby winner, Kukeracha.

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Rachel Agass


European Specialist in Equine Surgery

After graduating from the Royal Veterinary College, London, Rachel began an internship at a busy equine practice in the north of England, before working in an ambulatory role at the same practice where she developed an interest in surgery, including lameness diagnosis and management.

Following this, Rachel worked in Bendigo Equine Clinic, Victoria, gaining experience in a busy thoroughbred broodmare, foal and yearling practice.


After working in Australia, Rachel returned to the UK to complete residency training in equine surgery, beginning at Glasgow University, Scotland, and continuing at Rainbow Equine Hospital in North Yorkshire, England, participating in a broad surgical caseload from Thoroughbred to ponies. Rachel recently became a boarded European Specialist in Equine Surgery. Rachel is interested in all aspects of equine surgery, particularly management of developmental orthopaedic diseases of the Thoroughbred.

Rory Gormley


Rory graduated from the University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine in 2011. After two years in mixed practice he travelled to Australia to complete a 12 month internship in Bendigo Equine Hospital. Following the internship, he accepted a role with the same company (Victorian Equine Group), practicing as an ambulatory and clinic-based stud vet, dealing with predominantly Standardbred horses for chilled and frozen AI. From there, he shuttled to Yorkshire to join Equine Reproductive Services in 2015 for the northern hemisphere breeding season before returning to Victorian Equine Group in Bendigo for a thoroughbred stud-based role. In 2016 Rory completed another two breeding seasons between Equine Reproductive Services and Victorian Equine Group. In January 2017, Rory returned to his native Ireland to take up a role at Fethard Equine Hospital, providing services to Coolmore and numerous other thoroughbred farms and racing yards. He later returned to Equine Reproductive Services and remained for four breeding seasons before departing to join HEC.

Rory successfully completed the RCVS Certificate in equine stud medicine in 2016. In 2020 Rory completed a 3 year alternate-route residency program, and became a Diplomate of the American College of Theriogenologists in 2020. He is a recognised specialist in equine reproduction.


Rory is passionate about all aspects of equine stud medicine, including natural breeding, chilled and frozen artificial insemination and embryo transfer, as well as emerging reproductive applications and techniques. Rory also has a particular interest in treatment of the sub-fertile mare, foal and yearling medicine and thoroughbred sales work. 


Aside from stud medicine, Rory is regularly engaged with racing, sport horse and pleasure horse work, which he thoroughly enjoys.

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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.

Nikki Jackson

Practice Manager

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.

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Anna Munro-Faure

Vet Nurse

Anna graduated with a BSc (Hons) degree in Equine Science and Thoroughbred Management in 2013 from Oxford Brookes University. 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.


Since moving to Australia in 2016, Anna has worked at various studs in the Hunter Valley including Arrowfield, Vinery and Newgate. After 2 years at Newgate Farm Anna decided to follow a career in vet nursing, she has been working at Hunter Equine Centre since March 2019. 

Marie Clair Leschallas

Head Nurse

Marie-Clair graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a degree in Equine Science and Thoroughbred Management. She spent a season in New Zealand before moving to Australia, where she began working at Coolmore.

During her time there she completed studies in vet nursing and spent a season in Kentucky at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute as a vet tech. In her spare time you’ll find her making hats and fascinators for the races and spending time outdoors with her dog. She also enjoys going to concerts and loves to travel.

Sarah Wills


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.

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