In the four years since the birth of Springmount Farm in Victoria’s Macedon Ranges, Anna and Michael Flannery have taken their farm from strength to strength, positioning themselves as serious players in Victoria’s breeding industry. But the story of the husband and wife team behind the Farm extends back a lot further.
Anna was born in County Westmeath, in Ireland’s midlands. Her father was a horse trainer, who trained privately for the retired soldier, Lieutenant General Sir Charles Gairdner. Moving to Western Australia to become Governor, Gairdner wrote to Anna’s father in an attempt to lure him over. And it worked – Anna and her family shortly thereafter boarded ship bound for Australia.
Born in Paddington, Sydney, Michael Flannery returned to his father’s home country of Ireland when he was three years old. He would eventually travel back and forth between the two countries, working and learning his trade at farms such as Coolmore in Ireland, and Victoria’s Stockwell Thoroughbreds. A job offer came in from Western Australia, to work for Anna’s father. He took the job, Anna’s and Michael’s paths met and, as they say, the rest is romantic history.
Initially trained in health and midwifery, Anna worked in the healthcare sector both in Perth, overseas and with remote indigenous communities. These medical skills were ones she found easily transferred to mares, especially during the foaling season, and she initially spent a lot of her free time assisting Michael.
“A lot of the knowledge applies,” said Anna. “As well as handling medication, I also ran an immunisation program so the overlay is quite interesting. When we moved to Victoria, I’d planned to go back to work in the healthcare industry. I even went in for a job but got too busy at the farm and never went back!”
Taking a break from the horses, Michael spent time working in WA’s booming construction and mining industries. But upon deciding that horses was where their passion lied, to give it a go on their own they set up Avoca Park in Harvey, 140km south of Perth. They stuck at it for 20 years, but with the state’s breeding industry only so big and not quite viable enough to make it a livelihood, they packed up their car and crossed the Nullabor to try their luck in Victoria.
With thick conifer trees bordering the driveway, Springmount Farm is a picturesque 78-acre property nestled on the outskirts of Romsey. Just under an hour from Melbourne and central to many of Victoria’s top stud farms, the broodmares, babies and agisting racehorses in the Flannery’s care have ample space to frolic in the property’s lush paddocks.
“We looked for four years before finding this place,” said Michael of what used to be Monterey Stud. “We certainly wanted a place that was pretty well set up, we didn’t want to wait for trees to grow. It’s a huge plus if you can start operating your business without developing a property at the same time.”
Three white Labradors also call the property home, as do weanling nannies Burnie and Baldy. You may know Burnie better as the VOBIS cult-hero Burning Front, whilst Baldy was once a lead pony that belonged to trainer Peter Moody.
“Burning Front spelled here during his racing campaigns and I told (owner) Justin Lovatt that he’d always have a forever home here after he retired,” said Anna. “He was such a quiet and sensible racehorse when he was here. Currently sharing a paddock with three young colts, he’s taken to his new role of nanny so easily.”
This coming season, about 40 foals are expected to be born at Springmount before yearling preparation gets underway ahead of the sales season. Regular vendors at the Melbourne sales, the Flannerys had not only the Day Three sale topper but also their best ever result at this year’s Inglis Premier Yearling Sale. Lot 452, a popular Brazen Beau colt out the mare Sistine Princess, sold to Orbis Bloodstock for $560,000.
They may not have any plans for further development or expansion, but Anna and Michael seem fairly content in their little slice of horsey paradise. And rightly so. They’ll let their results speak for themselves.