26 August 2020

Five minutes with Mick Ryan

For Flemington Head Gardener Mick Ryan, his first Melbourne Cup Carnival in his new role is certainly like nothing he could have predicted, and has never seen the course quite like it during these unprecedented times.

My role at the VRC is ... Senior Manager Grounds and Gardens

The best part of my job is ... Coming to Flemington each day and working with like-minded people who have a passion for Flemington.

A challenging part of my job is ... Getting the timing right with the roses when you have so much going on with the Melbourne weather.

I love my job because ... I love gardening, and with that comes the satisfaction of watching all the hard work come to fruition in the spring as well as working in the outdoors.

My favourite moment in my career is ... becoming Senior Manager, as with it comes huge responsibility and a sense of pride to have a say in how Flemington will look for years to come.

My career background is ... I did work experience here at Flemington in 1989 twice!! Once was compulsory and the other time because I kept pestering my teacher to let me do it again. I was offered an apprenticeship the following year and I’ve been here ever since.

I am setting my sights on ... maintaining Flemington gardens as world-class. And even improving them.

Someone who I admire is ...  Terry Freeman, because he guided me through life when I lost my father when I was young. He gave me a start here at Flemington and taught me everything he knew.

My favourite racing moment is ... when I backed my one and only Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist in 2014!!!

A horse I have loved or admired is ... Makybe Diva for obviously winning the three Melbourne Cups on good to wet tracks and carrying a weight record for a mare.

I like the sport of racing because ... I love horses and admire their athletic ability. There is nothing like being along the Flemington straight and listening to the thunder of their hooves as they accelerate past you. It gives me goosebumps.

My job was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic because ... I had to stagger all of my staff starting times, they work in groups of two and the first group starts at 6.00 am and the last at 8.30 am. Managing them from a distance has its challenges. It’s hard to keep up the morale when there isn’t much atmosphere or any events happening. However, we have just finished pruning and can see the light at the end of this long tunnel. Bring on Cup Day.