‘Oh my God, you are amazing’: Eneeza a million-dollar baby since Day 1

This article was written by Keely McKitterick for TTR AusNZ.

Silverdale Farm celebrated a landmark victory with Eneeza winning the $1 million G2 Percy Sykes S., described as a ‘historic moment’ by the farm’s manager, Rob Petith. Described as a standout filly since birth, the million-dollar yearling now Group winning juvenile further confirms the quality of Silverdale’s breeding program.

Saturday’s victory of Eneeza (Exceed And Excel) in the $1 million G2 Percy Sykes S. was described by Silverdale Farm’s manager Rob Petith as the ‘best day he’s had on a racetrack’.

There was immense pride attached to the win of the 2-year-old, trained by Peter Moody and Katherine Coleman. Eneeza was bred by Silverdale Farm’s owner Steve Grant under his Grant Bloodstock banner and carries the GB brand.

From the moment of her birth in August 2021, Eneeza has been a standout. Her quality was evident, leading to her fetching a price of $1.1 million when she was sold to Kia Ora Stud and TFI from the draft of Silverdale Farm at the 2023 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale.

Eneeza as a yearling | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

Eneeza’s success further underscores the impact Silverdale Farm has made in its short existence and highlights the quality of the products born and raised on the property.

On Sunday, TTR AusNZ chatted with Rob Petith aboutthe latest star to emerge from the Southern Highlands nursery.

“We were thrilled. I know the Percy Sykes is a Group 2 by status, but Eneeza beat a fantastic field, including the last-start G1 Golden Slipper winner. For a small farm like Silverdale, which breeds off limited numbers, it was an incredibly proud moment.

“For a small farm like Silverdale, which breeds off limited numbers, it (breeding a Group 2-winning 2-year-old) was an incredibly proud moment.” – Rob Petith

“The 2-year-olds off the farm have been going so well. Some could argue Eneeza has been a bit unlucky in some of her races. However, she’s been beaten by some incredible horses along the way, and it just seemed very fitting for her yesterday (Saturday).

“Eneeza has provided great thrills for myself but also Steve (Grant) and Eliza (Grant), alongside Ken and Maree Lowe, who partnered up to breed this beautiful filly.”

Star from day dot

Eneeza is the third foal and second live foal from the talented Sweet Sherry (Bel Esprit), whom Steve Grant purchased privately in a bundle with another mare and a weanling. The daughter of Bel Esprit won the G2 Euclase S. alongside the Listed Maribynong Trial S. and the Listed William Crockett S.

Sweet Sherry foaled the filly now known as Eneeza on August 20, 2021 | Image courtesy of Silverdale

Sweet Sherry was sent to the Champion Sire I Am Invincible in her first season, producing a filly who unfortunately died after birth. She was served by Snitzel the following season, again foaling a filly, who now bears the name Madeira.

Madeira is unraced and in training with Ciaron Maher. She was a $1.35 million purchase by Badgers Bloodstock and Glentree Thoroughbreds from the 2022 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale.

Following Eneeza, Sweet Sherry foaled a colt by I Am Invincible, which Silverdale Farm offered at the recent 2024 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale. It fetched $775,000 from China Horse Club, Newgate, Go Bloodstock, and Trilogy.

Eneeza as a foal with her dam Sweet Sherry | Image courtesy of Silverdale Farm and Rob Petith

Sweet Sherry returned to Snitzel in 2022 and foaled a filly by the four-time Champion Sire in August. She subsequently returned to I Am Invincible. However, Petith admits it is a shame Sweet Sherry can’t return to the now pensioned Exceed And Excel after the magic they created.

“She is a beautiful mare. If you were to parade all the mares here and ask which one you wanted, you would pick Sweet Sherry every time. It is a shame we can’t go back to Exceed And Excel, as they clicked so well. We were joking because I started off at Woodlands 20-something years ago, and I know Peter Flynn, Scott Holcombe, and John Sunderland well. I told them Sweet Sherry might need to come through the back gate.

“It was all tongue in cheek, but they worked well together. I remember I actually transported Sweet Sherry to Darley to see Exceed And Excel that year myself, and I remember having the conversation leading into it, but it’s amazing because you blink and it is gone.”

Speaking about the half-brother which Silverdale Farm sold for $775,000, Petith said, “Eneeza’s half-brother sold last week to the Newgate Colt Fund, which is very exciting. It’s a group that we are involved with and have had a lot of success, and we get a lot of thrills on the track.

Eneeza's half-brother by I Am Invincible was purchased for $775,000 at the 2024 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale | Image courtesy of Inglis

“He was a beautiful colt. We were very proud of him and are excited to still be involved as he goes forward. He was gorgeous, and Sweet Sherry is back in foal to I Am Invincible now, and she’s got a beautiful Snitzel filly on her at the moment, who we’re also very excited about.

“She’s just a gorgeous foal. Sweet Sherry has been the most amazing mare for us, and we feel very fortunate to have her, as she’s helped shape our farm. Steve actually purchased Sweet Sherry through a package Andy (Andrew) Williams put together. We were fortunate enough to purchase her and another mare and a weanling privately.”

Well-rounded thoroughbreds

Despite launching the Silverdale Farm brand in 2017, with Petith joining in 2020 and their first yearling draft presented in 2021, the operation has quickly made its mark and produced a fair share of $1 million yearlings in its short existence.

However, Petith is thankful buyers have confidence to pay high prices for the Silverdale Farm-raised thoroughbreds. The results on the track mean more to him than the sale ring success. Whether a horse is sold for $20,000 or $1 million, they are all treated the same, receiving the same early education to prepare them for a life as a racehorse and life after racing.

“Steve has been in the game for a long time, but certainly Silverdale Farm is a nice brand. I think we’ve only got four crops of racing age. So, to have the results that we have had is fantastic. We put an incredible amount of time, work, and money into developing the brand; there is no stone left unturned.

Rob Petith and Steve Grant with Eneeza as a yearling | Image courtesy of Silverdale Farm

“When we are preparing these horses, we want them to go forward the second they leave our care. All the early work, time, and education we put in are to hopefully take some of the risks out in a high-risk game. We try to equip the Silverdale Farm horses with the tools they need to be successful racehorses and attractive prospects for a fruitful career after racing. We really look to lay the groundwork early in the horse’s life, making it easier in the long run.”

Petith was also thrilled to hear Eneeza’s co-trainer Peter Moody say post-race the filly could be the toughest juvenile he’s ever had. “That was wonderful, to hear things like that is a credit. For Peter Moody to say she’s the toughest 2-year-old he’s ever had.

“That’s just fantastic for us. For all the hard work that goes into the development of the brand and at the 2024 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale when we talked about what does the GB brand mean? Hopefully we can continue to develop the brand and people recognize it and know exactly what they are getting when they buy a horse with the brand.”

Silverdale Farm brand carried to success

Eneeza isn’t the only juvenile to star for Silverdale Farm this autumn. The Anthony Cummings-trained Extreme Diva (Extreme Choice), a $400,000 purchase by DGR Thoroughbred Services (FBAA) from the 2023 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, has also shown plenty of talent without the touch of green in five career starts.

“It has been tremendous. We had Subterranean then Fireburn, now Eneeza and Extreme Diva, who is so, so tough. She’s been such a fighter. Extreme Diva hasn’t managed to win a race yet but she’s been placed in black-type events and has been right there. She just never gives and always runs into bad luck.

“Then we’ve had debut 2-year-old winners like Captain Amelia, who ran in the Percy Sykes last year and drew a terrible gate but had absolutely no luck but she was a winner on debut before that. Then Pro Forma, a winner on debut, Sovereign Hill, a 2-year-old winner on debut also. It’s brilliant for the farm, for the brand, for Steve and Eliza and the people that partner up with us.”

Commenting on the sale success, especially from a mare like Sweet Sherry, Petith said, “We try not to focus or draw attention to our results in the ring. We are heavily focused on breeding future athletes on the track. Fireburn, who was bred at Silverdale in partnership with Laurel Oak Bloodstock and Ken and Maree Lowe, we sold out as a weanling for a minuscule amount of money.

“But how wonderful it was to see her perform on the track and then to be sold privately to Japan at the end of her career. She was a superstar and wasn’t fashionable at the time. So, that’s our main focus just giving every horse the tools to handle whatever they’re faced with as they go through their careers. That education starts from day one.

“I know it may sound silly but we want our horses to be the ones that strappers are fighting for because they’re so good to deal with and they’re soft and tractable. By the time a Silverdale horse goes to the sales they have been three quarters broken. Once they go to the educator, they don’t have to do any of the groundwork stuff because they’re so soft.”

All in the education

Petith takes great pride in the education of Silverdale Farm graduates, considering it a crucial aspect that has earned the farm respect from its peers and contributed to the success of their graduates on the track.

Thoroughbreds raised at Silverdale Farm are introduced to floating and the treadmill at a young age. While they aren’t actively worked on the treadmill, they are familiarised with it by being walked over it. This exposure prepares them for the training methods they are likely to encounter in their racing careers.

“The Silverdale Farm horses aren’t going to be the yearlings struggling to load onto a truck at the end of the sale. I believe that exposing them to various experiences as young horses gives them an advantage and reduces some risks.

Eneeza raced clear in the G2 Percy Sykes S. at Randwick on Saturday | Image courtesy of Ashlea Brennan

“Then, at the end of their racing careers, if they’re well-educated from birth and have the right attitude, they’ll be easier to rehome. Those types of horses are always in demand, and we want to ensure our horses find caring and loving homes.

“I truly believe it all starts on day one. As horse people, the more we expose them to at an early age, the more comfortable they’ll be. That’s why our yearlings spend time in tie-ups, we use the truck around the farm – even though we’re only 240 acres, they get on and off the truck, and they’re used to standing patiently in the tie-ups.

“They walk across the treadmill. Everything we can do to make it a calm and positive experience. We don’t work the yearlings on the treadmill, but they walk across it every time they go out of the barn. It touches them up on the side, and hopefully, that prepares them to be comfortable on a treadmill and in the barriers where they might be touched.”

Team effort

The success of Eneeza has put the spotlight on Silverdale Farm, managed by Rob Petith. However, the humble horseman deflects the credit, attributing the success to the team around him and owner Steve Grant for giving him the opportunity to excel.

“It really does go both ways. I am so fortunate because I honestly work for the best people in the game. Steve is so supportive and backs me. He has equipped us with the facilities, the infrastructure, and the design to allow us to have a point of difference. It’s been a costly exercise to run these types of farms, let alone the extra effort that goes into them because we’re about playing the long game.

“Steve is always encouraging us to improve, and just because we’ve done something a certain way for a long time, doesn’t mean that’s the best way to do it. He’s constantly pushing the boundaries, urging me to think differently to enhance our systems and produce the best possible horses that we can.

“I’m very lucky to be part of such an exciting team with great people. I remember when we first started, we had our first Magic Millions Yearling Sale on the Gold Coast where we sold really well, and there was a great Irish girl, Liz, who worked for us. She was at the bar with other strappers, and people were like, ‘Who is Silverdale?’ We were really the new kids on the block.

“But by the end of the sale, the comments were, ‘Oh, you work for Silverdale, what an amazing sale you had.’ We really did have a fantastic debut, and I said to Steve, that doesn’t happen every year. You know there are going to be really tough times ahead. Look, the tough times have come and will be more, but when you feel so confident and proud of the horses you’re presenting, it goes a long way.

“Hopefully, Eneeza keeps going. She looks like she’s got a lot more to come. I believe she’s heading up to Brisbane. I know it sounds easy to say now what a ripper of a foal she was, but honestly, hand on heart, she was just such a special filly from day one.

The Silverdate team felt Eneeza was a special filly from day one, images courtesy of Silverdale Farm

“I remember taking a picture of her and thinking, ‘Oh my God, you are amazing.’ She was an unbelievable foal, and I talked to Shane Wright from Kia Ora this morning, and he said she was just the filly of the sale for him.

“I’m just so proud because I loved her. She is something special. The manner in which she won on Saturday was just amazing. You can see her dig deep and kick. Very exciting, and Silverdale Farm is just thrilled to have been part of her life.”

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