The last roadblock I hit was tagging animations for export. Well after talking to the artists at work no-one knows how to do it in 3ds Max 2009 (or any version of Maya).
So after some digging I found this post on the XNA forums.
So by parsing a separate text file using the Content Pipeline I can export and tag animations. So a bit of shuffle work and bada boom, problem solved.
Sorry no visual progress to show, but its a technical issue solved which makes me happy.