Silverdale Farm rolling into the season ahead

Steve Grant’s Silverdale Farm has 40 mares heading out to stallions this upcoming breeding season, and its agenda is firmly type first, and all the rest later.

Silverdale Farm is relatively new to the breeding business, but its stock and studmaster are anything but. Owned by Steve Grant, whose involvement in bloodstock goes back some 40 years, the farm itself emerged as a working thoroughbred property only last year.

Up to that point, Silverdale had been a hobby holding for Grant for over 11 years, with the bulk of his bloodstock at nearby Milburn Creek. These days, almost all of it is on the farm, which is perched on 230 rich acres of grassland just north of Fitzroy Falls in the Southern Highlands.

Grant is in good company in this pretty pocket of New South Wales.

Milburn Creek is nearby, Woodpark Stud is down this way, as is Rheinwood Pastoral and B2B Thoroughbreds.

For Grant, the hour’s-drive proximity to Sydney is critical to his business model, with Silverdale Farm within easy reach for weanling, yearling and race-filly investors. And, with Silverdale selling yearlings under its own banner for the first time in 2021, the proximity to Sydney has been ideal.

With largely all of his bloodstock now on-site, overseen by the diligent Stud Manager Robert Petith, Grant will breed around 40 mares this season to 16 individual sires, and it’s a fine collection.

The maidens

Notably on the Silverdale Farm run-sheet for the season upcoming, Grant has five maiden mares. He puts a lot of emphasis on new mares in his overarching business plan.

“We generally only buy maiden mares straight off the track,” Grant said. “We’re not looking for horses that have been bred three and four times, because we look at every opportunity of a mating as ultra-important so as not to damage the reputation of the mare in the long run.”

Grant said the risk of buying maiden mares can be mitigated.

“It’s not a risk if you get it right,” he said. “Last year we got 90 per cent of our mares in foal, but the biggest stat we focus on is that 95 per cent of those mares were on first cover. For us, we don’t want to be taking mares and foals up to the Hunter Valley, or south to Victoria, more than once. It’s a long drive, so we focus on making sure it’s one trip – successful and in foal.”

For a small farm, Silverdale’s five maiden mares is a decent number.

“We had all our maidens ready to go on September 1 last year, and it won’t be too different this time,” Grant said. “Early covers are better for foaling and sale ring returns. If you’ve got a foal that’s eight weeks ahead as a 2-year-old, that tends to make an enormous difference to when that horse is able to race and perform, and that’s what our clients like.”

Where they’re going

On the list of maiden mares for Silverdale Farm this spring is L’Cosmo (Lonhro), a daughter of the brilliant Cosmic Endeavour (Northern Meteor). Cosmic Endeavour won the G1 Tattersall’s Tiara and G1 Canterbury S., and also the G2 Sapphire S. and G2 Dane Ripper S.

L’Cosmo was a consistent race mare for trainer David Vandyke, and was purchased by Grant and bloodstock agent Andrew Williams at the 2020 Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale. They paid $460,000 for her and she raced on until her retirement last month.

She is booked to I Am Invincible at Yarraman Park.

Watch: L’Cosmo parade

“It’s not very often that we’d send maidens to I Am Invincible, but we’re doing it with L’Cosmo,” Grant said. “She’s a great mare and it’s a great mating, but we had to be really sure about the breeding on type to go to that expense.”

Type is a critical factor for Grant when it comes to choosing mares.

“For us, regardless of their records and pedigrees, mares that we buy must be real type-winners,” he said. “We won’t buy them unless their type is absolutely spot on, because we’re trying to breed really good-quality horses on their type. Their physical is really important to us.”

Just last week he bought Queen Of Rocks (Fastnet Rock), who is Listed-placed and a daughter of the multiple stakes winner Dowager Queen (NZ) (Savabeel). She has been retired and will head to the breeding barn this spring once Grant has settled on a mating.

Among the other maidens heading out to stallions from Silverdale Farm is Threeood, who is by Star Witness from the Street Sense (USA) mare Sencircles. Threeood is a Group 3 winner, and overall a winner of six races in city class. The mare’s final run occurred as recently as July at Randwick.

Threeood is booked to Newgate’s boom sire Capitalist this spring.

Threeood (black cap) | Image courtesy of Ashlea Brennan

“Capitalist produces great types,” Grant said. “He’s a Golden Slipper winner and when they’ve achieved what he’s achieved, they usually go on with it at stud. With Threeood, we were so lucky to get hold of her.

“She is a nice mare, and it was a great team that we bought her off. When we were negotiating, we told them where we were going to send the mare (to Capitalist) and they were excited about that.”

Grant said syndicates often enjoy knowing where a horse will head, breeding wise, during the sale process.

He’s aware of this when negotiating, and respectful of it. Silverdale divides its buying budget fairly equally between private, off-track purchases and the sale ring, with the former making up about 55 per cent of Silverdale’s buying activity, with around 45 per cent coming from auctions.

Merited winning at Sandown

Another such horse bought privately, and one on the maiden list, is Merited (Fastnet Rock), who last ran in December and was stakes-placed in a nine-start career. She is a daughter of the stakes-winning mare Jeu De Cartes (NZ) (Stravinsky {USA}), and Grant has booked her to Deep Field.

She is further joined on the maiden run-sheet by Bella Rosa (Snitzel), a G3 Ottawa S. winner and daughter of the stakes-winning mare Swiss Rose (NZ) (Thorn Park). Bella Rosa is booked to Zoustar at Widden Stud after missing to the stallion last season.

Finally, the last of the Silverdale maidens is Rotator (Not A Single Doubt), who is from the Reset mare War Path and a half-sister to the G2 Emancipation S. winner Positive Peace (Stratum).

Rotator will join the truck to Newgate Farm, another of Silverdale’s mares booked to Deep Field this spring.

Bella Rosa (blue and green silks) | Image courtesy of Bronwen Healy

Auckland to Pacific

Steve Grant has a close association with Newgate, and is part of the Newgate Colts Syndicate. He had an interest in North Pacific during the horse’s racing days and has booked four mares to the dashing new sire.

“He’s a beautiful horse with really great conformation,” Grant said. “For him, that’s one thing that attracts us, and we were interested in giving him a good start so we’ve matched up mares that will particularly suit him. Auckland Beauty is one of them, and that’s a really strong mating for him.”

Auckland Beauty (Redoute’s Choice) will visit North Pacific this spring. She’s a daughter of Fritz’s Princess (More Than Ready {USA}), who won the G2 The Shorts in 2008.

Auckland Beauty was purchased in 2015 by Laurel Oak Bloodstock, which Grant has been involved with for a long time. She cost $50,000 from the draft of Arrowfield Stud at the Inglis Sydney Weanling and Broodmare Sale.

Astern x Auckland Beauty (colt) sold for $130,000 to Star Thoroughbreds and Randwick Bloodstock Agency (FBAA)

To date, she has had four foals, the latest to sell being the Astern colt Havlicek, who made $130,000 at this year’s Inglis Classic Yearling Sale. He was bought by Star Thoroughbreds and Randwick Bloodstock Agency (FBAA), and was part of the eight-horse debut draft for Silverdale at the Classic Sale.

Auckland Beauty is currently in foal to Nicconi, and she will join three other of Grant’s mares in heading to North Pacific. The remaining trio is Canberra (Sepoy), who is a daughter of the brilliant Hidden Wonder (Danzero) and who is currently in foal to Toronado (Ire), plus Hateel (Star Witness), who is a full sister to the stakes winner Pearl Star.

Lastly there is Runway Ready (Zoffany {Ire}), who is currently in foal to Star Witness and is a half-sister to the G2 Alister Clarke S. winner Chill Party (Nicconi).

North Pacific

The hit list

It’s difficult to cherry-pick the best of Silverdale’s mares, so many are there on pedigree and record. However, there are some notables among them.

Lately, the broodmare Caves (Bernardini {USA}) has been in lights owing to her 3-year-old colt Subterranean (Rebel Dane), who won the G3 Ken Russell Memorial H. this year.

Caves is booked to Deep Field this spring after foaling a Sooboog filly on August 2. She has had four foals to date in her breeding career by the stallions Rebel DaneSmart Missile and, as mentioned, the Kitchwin Hills sire Sooboog. She’s been a remarkable addition to the band, especially in light of her costing Grant only $1000.

“Caves, with Deep Field, is a really strong pedigree match,” Grant said. “And that’s apart from it being a really good physical match. Looking at the ratings system, that will jump out.”

Grant also mentioned Sense Of Hite (Street Sense {USA}), who is booked to Snitzel. She is due to foal to I Am Invincible soon and she’s the dam of Quintessa (Pierro) and Acrophobic (Dissident).

Ostentatious with her 2020 Deep Field filly bred in partnership with Carpe Diem, Laurel Oak and Glenn Fraser

Additionally there is Ostentatious (Shamardal {USA}), currently in foal to Capitalist and booked to Kia Ora’s debut sire Farnan.

“Our booking to Farnan was a particular request by one of the shareholders in that stallion, and Ostentatious has given us a couple of really nice horses,” Grant said. “One of them is Rules Don’t Apply, who has won four races now with Chris Waller. She’s also got a cracking Deep Field in the paddock, and we were happy to go along with that request to Farnan.”

Ostentatious is a daughter of the old Woodlands mare Renaissance (Lonhro), who was a Group 2 winner.

“With Farnan there’s a pretty good cross upfront, because there’s Street Cry, the sire of the dam of Farnan, and you’ve got Helsinki, who is the dam of Shamardal,” Grant said. “So that’s a marvellous cross to have there on the third line.”

Farnan

Rebel with a cause

Silverdale Farm isn’t in the business of standing stallions, nor will it be any time soon.

“Focus on what you’re good at,” Grant said, and it’s the reason why the studmaster’s Group-winning stallion, Rebel Dane, is at Glen Eden Stud in Victoria and not in the lush surrounds of Fitzroy Falls.

Rebel Dane was a magnificent racehorse for Grant and his long-time business partner Ken Lowe, winning the G1 Rupert Clarke S. and G1 Manikato S., along with the G2 The Shorts and two other Group races.

However, Grant and Lowe found it near impossible to find a stud home for the horse when he retired.

At first, Rebel Dane stood at Swettenham Stud, where he debuted for $12,500 (inc GST). In 2018, the horse moved to Glen Eden. His fee slipped to $5000 (inc GST) last season, but this season, off the back of the colt Subterranean, he is up to $8800 (inc GST).

“He can produce a horse that you can make a profit out of,” Grant said, referring to the Inglis Classic Sale colt that Silverdale sold this year for $110,000 to Hannover Lodge.

“Rebel Dane, as we’ve seen with Subterranean, can produce types,” he said. “Very seldom is the opportunity there for a stallion to dominate a mare and improve her in the type that he throws.”

Rebel Dane

Silverdale Farm has booked six mares to Rebel Dane, among them Grant’s favourite, Power Of Love (NZ) (Bahhare {USA}). The 19-year-old mare has a foal due this spring by So You Think (NZ), and she is already the dam of Vaucluse Bay (Al Maher) and Hot ‘N’ Soxy (Dylan Thomas {Ire}), the latter of whom is on the farm and booked to Star Witness this season.

Power Of Love will be joined in her visit to Rebel Dane by Pronto Bella (Husson {Arg}) and Miss Barwick (Zoustar), among others.

Grant’s faith in his stallion is enduring, and he’s putting his money, or in this case his mares, where his mouth is. He is also offering breeding-rights incentives into Rebel Dane this year.

“If you send two mares this year and pay the listed price, next year you can send two mares and you won’t have to pay for them,” he said. “Those two that you pay for upfront, they will give you the price of the breeding right for life, and then you send two mares the next year and continue with one nomination thereafter.”

Grant and Lowe have done most of the work for Rebel Dane in an effort to get him out there.

“Why are we doing it?” he asked. “We’re doing it because we owe it to the horse. We know he can produce a runner, and we want to offer him the support to be able to do that.”

Written by Jessica Owers, originally published in TDN Australian New Zealand

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