Veterinary surgeons from the Three Counties Equine Hospital, based in Tewkesbury and Ross-on-Wye, are familiar faces in racing in the border region of England and Wales. They are often on duty at Hereford, Ludlow and Worcester racecourses, and are on the books for both Venetia Williams and Michael Scudamore.
Today the focus for four of the partners shifts to London, where they will be on duty in the cross-country phase of the Olympic three-day event competition. Graham Potts is at his fourth Olympic tournament. Thirty years ago he went to Australia to work, and whilst there established links with the equestrian team. When he returned to the UK in 1990, he soon picked up a role as their vet in the Northern Hemisphere.
He explained, “A lot of the top riders from Australia are resident in Europe for large parts of the year because that is where the big competitions are and where the other top riders are.” He’s involved throughout the Olympics with all the Australian equestrian teams.
Three colleagues, Mark Georgetti, Liam Kearns and Chris Rea are volunteers for today’s cross-country element of the three-day event. With over 50 riders taking on 45 obstacles there are around 2,500 separate jumps where their services could be called on. Inevitably there will be some falls, but on the whole these events pass off without major injuries to either horse or rider.
New Zealander Mark Georgetti is a regular kayak racer in his spare time, though he didn’t attempt to gain a place for his country in that competition.
Whether or not their professional skills are called on today, it’s a feather in the cap of the hospital for its vets to be called on to support the Olympics.