ANZ: Silverdale Farm furnishing into the vision of owner Steve Grant

Silverdale Farm is heaven for horses.

Set atop lush, undulating country in the NSW Southern Highlands, the world class property overlooks coastal mountain ranges and brings a deep sense of peace and tranquility to its equine and human residents.

The brainchild of prominent breeder and owner Steve Grant, Silverdale Farm is now widely regarded as one of the most innovative and luxurious boutique horse properties anywhere in Australia.

Formerly a dairy farm, there wasn’t a single horse on the place up until four years ago. But a fortuitous visit from Milburn Creek’s John Muir and Scott Holcombe, who once looked after much of Grant’s portfolio of breeding stock, soon changed all of that.

“It was their encouragement. They said ‘this is amazing country, why don’t you create your own farm’. The seed was planted then and it has evolved to where it is today,” said Silverdale Farm general manager Robert Petith.

“It’s been a massive transformation with an eye for detail the whole way through. The key focus has been creating a world class facility that strives for safety for horses and staff while aesthetics are important as well.

“The focus has been on creating something that is the ideal.”

What they have created so far is nothing short of amazing, but it’s still work in progress.

“We will both be pleased when it’s finished. Our attention to detail and desire to get it right means we are still building,” added Petith.

A 16-horse yearling barn is now well in place and development of another 12 boxes is currently underway.

Exercise facilities such as a round yard, treadmill and walking machine are all under the one state-of-the-art roof with a strong emphasis on being able to work them rain, hail or shine and not disrupt their daily routine.

“Steve (Grant) has an incredible design brain and he’s been involved in many different horse-related structures being built.

“It’s an open conversation between us. I offer up what my ideals might be from a practical point of view and from facilities that I have worked in and suggest how it can be done in a time effective way,” said Petith.

“He will normally go off and sketch something up and then arrive at what the final plan will be and we tweak it as we get closer to the finish of these different projects.

“I have been fortunate enough to work overseas and Steve has travelled quite extensively. His passion for the racing and breeding game is incredible and it is exciting to be part of a progressive farm focused on getting things right.”

Grant, who part-owns Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Stay Inside (Extreme Choice), runs a construction company and has built a number of major horse facilities over the years, including the stabling at Rosehill Gardens.

He says he’s relishing now being able to design and develop his own dream property.

“There’s always plenty to do but it’s now tweaking to make sure it’s perfect,” said Grant.

Silverdale Farm is a private breeding operation that is home to a band of up to 30 high quality broodmares.

Some of its sizable paddocks are named after several of Grant’s most successful racehorses that have inspired his strong involvement in the industry.

There’s one called Kinema (Galileo), who won for him, Richard Pegen, Ken Lowe and partners at Royal Ascot in 2016.

Kinema has since returned to the expanses of Silverdale and is used as a nanny for newcomers, while another paddock is named in honour of Manikato Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Rebel Dane (California Dane) who he also raced.

With a strong desire for achieving future racetrack success, not only for themselves, but others, Silverdale Farm offered its first ever yearling draft (five horses) at the record-breaking Magic Millions yearling sale on the Gold Coast in January, and, impressively, achieved several $500,000-plus results.

“It’s really encouraging and going very well. Each of the three sales we were at exceeded our expectations and to sell our first horse to Coolmore was really great,” said Grant.

That sales ring success was led by Petith, who has been in the role as general manager of the farm for 14 months.

Previously in charge at the esteemed Canning Downs at Warwick in Queensland, Petith was hand picked for the position by Grant and hasn’t looked back since taking up the opportunity.

It’s been a big change in landscape for the highly regarded horseman, having come from what was for many years a drought-ravaged region, to an area where the average annual rainfall is a whopping 1050 millimetres.

Abundance of water is one of the many advantages at Silverdale Farm with horses thriving on quality pasture and the mineral-rich natural spring water that flows there.

“We were in drought for eight of the ten years when I was there (at Canning Downs), 2018 was the driest year on record ever. It was a beautiful, historical farm and they were wonderful people. It was a big decision to leave, but that’s life,” reflected Petith.

It’s very clear that Petith is at Silverdale Farm for the long haul and excited by the thought of being able to help build the brand in the highly competitive thoroughbred breeding and trading business.

“It’s great satisfaction for the boss to see he has chosen the right country and the systems we are putting in place are doing it in the sales ring.”

Written by Jo McKinnon, originally published in ANZ Bloodstock News

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