Day At The Track

Harnessing a dream for vet career

10:00 AM 24 Feb 2021 NZDT
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Colin Rogers and his step granddaughter and strapper, Anna Timpano with their favorite race horse, Murranji Track, a winer of 30 races and $228,000 in stakes, Harness racing
Colin Rogers and his step granddaughter and strapper, Anna Timpano with their favorite race horse, Murranji Track, a winer of 30 races and $228,000 in stakes

Former Victorian pony trots competitor Anna Timpano is this week taking the first step to fulfilling a childhood dream to be a vet - and she's convinced her experience in harness racing has her better prepared than most.

Anna headed off on Monday to begin studies in Veterinary Bioscience at the University of Adelaide's Roseworthy College - the first part of a veterinary science degree - leaving behind her pony trots and a role as strapper for her Mildura-based step-grandfather Colin Rogers.

But with six years or more of hard work ahead, Anna's thrilled to be getting started and says her harness racing experience will stand her in good stead.

"I always loved animals and knew I wanted to be a vet, but until we moved to Colin's I had barely even touched a horse," Anna said.

"But that soon changed. My sister Emma and I did three or four years of pony trots and just loved it, and I've also helped Colin out with the horses every night after school and at the weekends. First just doing waters and feeds and yards, but then working them as well," she said.

"Now all I want to do is work with horses when I've finished my degree."

Anna Timpano has given up her strapping duties for the time

Anna has landed in the right place. The UA veterinary science program focuses on rural and large-animal practice, where Australia's veterinary shortage is most acute, and offers hands-on experience in clinical and industry settings such as farms, intensive agriculture and equine practice.

Federal Government figures show there's an ongoing shortage of vets, especially in rural areas, despite a record high number of graduates (around 500 a year).

Increasing pet ownership and a reluctance among graduates to work in regional Australia are among the factors contributing to the shortfall.

Rogers said he was never in doubt about where Anna was heading, career-wise.

"She was always animal crazy - cats, dogs, birds, everything. She'd never done horse work when she came here, but she just took to them like a duck to water, and she'd be up at six every morning," he said.

"It wasn't too long and if a horse had an injury or we were working with a problem, we'd sit down and she'd tell me about what we could be doing.

"Then when we had to take one of our horses Murranji Moonlight over to Roseworthy for stem cell treatment, the vets let Anna sit in and watch the operation - I think that was the sealer!"

It wasn't an easy road for Anna and her Year 12 cohort, spending most of 2020 in lockdown and studying remotely for their VCE and all-important ATAR ranking for university admission.

"For a start it was nice to be doing something new - but I did do a lot of science subjects and it was tough in that way," Anna said.

"It was also disappointing that we missed out on doing a lot of the practical work you would usually get to do, but everyone was in the same boat, so we just did our best," Anna said.

Rogers admits having close-at-hand access to veterinary advice will be a handy perk, if a somewhat "long-term" plan, but he's missing the assistance around the stables.

"And on race nights, I really didn't have to do anything - I'd just drive the horses to the track and Anna would do the rest, harness up everything so I'm definitely going to miss her!"


Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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