Friday, June 23, 2006

Newmarket Horse Park? London 2012 Olympics May Build an Equine Hospital to Serve Equestrian Sports

There's more to the Olympics than meets the flame. According to reports in today's UK newspapers, funds may be available in England for the 2012 Olympics that would fund the building of a world-class equestrian sports park, and the race-y town of Newmarket wants first dibs on the available cash.

Among the cash expenditures would be a new equine hospital to service horses competing in the games.

No tongue in the cheek, honest! If you have ever been to Newmarket, you know that the town has almost as many veterinarians as horses. Among the world-renowned institutions already in town are the esteemed Animal Health Trust, where Hoofcare consulting editor Sue Dyson works on equine orthopedics with researcher Rachel Murray, and the Rossdales and Partners which, at last count, had something like three campuses, with separate specialties.

The veterinary college at Cambridge University is only 12 miles away and has an equine hospital as well.

Let's not forget Greenwood Ellis and Partners of Newmarket, where navicular expert and surgeon Ian Wright is hard at work.

And those are just the vets for referrals.

It is this last practice that will be petitioning 2012 Olympics czar Lord Sebastian Coe (right, that Sebastian Coe, remember the film "Chariots of Fire"?) for a role for vet med in a proposed equestrian park to be built on a 100 acre site in Newmarket.

Quoted in East Anglia News: "We would love to bring the Olympic Games in some form to Newmarket and to have some lasting legacy as a result," Mr Wright said.

The actual equestrian competitions are supposed to take place in Greenwich, England, near London. Greenwich is best known for being the home of the world's official clock, as in "Greenwich Mean Time". (That's what those BBC news announcers are always talking about when they give you the hour "GMT".) It is also the home of 0 degrees longitude, still used in all our maps and navigation. The whole world went out from the British empire back in the old days, and Greenwich could arguably have been the center of the universe. I've always wanted to visit the maritime museum there.

Newmarket, on the other hand, is the world's largest training center for Thoroughbred racehorses. Trainers have racing "yards" in the town and train/condition the horses on a magnificent hilly "heath". The little town also has two racetracks and a slew of farriers.

Wouldn't you think that the danger of Olympic horses bringing disease would cause some concern among the racing types, and vice versa?

Stay tuned for more details....