Equestrian brain drain

  • Prof Leo Jeffcott, the FEI’s chief vet and dean of Cambridge University Veterinary School who has officiated at the past five Olympics and four World Equestrian Games, is to leave the UK to be dean of the veterinary faculty at the University of Sydney.

    Prof Jeffcott, who has dual Australian/British nationality but was born in England, has been at Cambridge for 13 years. Before that, he spent 10 years at the University of Melbourne.

    For 27 years, he has been FEI event vet, and is chairman of the FEI veterinary committee until 2006. His FEI role will not be affected by the move.

    “It’s a new challenge: I’m 62, they’ve offered me a five-year contract and I’m very much looking forward to it,” says Prof Jeffcott, who specialises in spinal problems and developmental diseases in young horses.

    Cambridge University Veterinary School faced an uncertain future when Prof Jeffcott arrived, having faced closure in 1990. Since then, more than £25 million has been invested in building new facilities, as well as improving research and teaching.

    “We now have a hospital that we’re proud of,” he says. “I’m particularly pleased with the horse facilities – a dedicated operating theatre, and the more recent diagnostic unit. Major grants from the Home of Rest for Horses of £1m over 10 years went towards facilities. We are also about to install MRI.”

    Prof Jeffcott takes up his new post on 1 October, and his wife and two daughters will be joining him in Sydney in due course.

    A replacement for his position at Cambridge is likely to be sought next year; however, his successor will not necessarily be an equine specialist – Jeffcott originally took over from a farm animal vet.

  • This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (9 September 04)

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