Silverdale Farm’s sensational Easter Sale

TDN AUSNZ caught up with Steve Grant following an Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale that was incredibly satisfying.

The Avoca-based business consigned eight yearlings and all have sold (six sold during the sale and two post).

Silverdale Farm finished the sale as the leading vendor by average (with three or more lots sold), with their eight yearlings grossing $4,950,000 at an incredible average of $618,750.

Grant admitted it is a great reward for effort for his hard-working team.

“Rob (Petith) and I have been planning our next moves, so, yeah, we’ve still been working as usual,” Grant told TDN AusNZ on Wednesday morning.

“We have achieved 100 per cent clearance again, which is always our aim.

“Rob has put together a great team and he’s done a great job leading it. Helen Boyes, who is Rob’s 2IC, was so excited about the sale and she worked really hard in the morning on Monday and Tuesday, so she could come to the sale on both days and lead one in herself. You can’t do those things without the back up at the farm. And Rob’s wife, Lucy, is just a stalwart supporter for the team.

“When you’re trying to get top staff and you’ve been going three years with your sales, they sit there scratching their head, saying, ‘Should I come to Silverdale?’ I did promise them we would be going places and the farm’s going to be something special.

“It’s just phenomenal.”

The star of the show for Silverdale was their filly by Arrowfield Stud’s emerging star sire The Autumn Sun (Lot 440). She is from the imported mare, South Africa’s Champion Sprinter of 2013/14, Via Africa (SAf) (Var {USA}), making the filly a three-quarter sister to the G1 Golden Rose hero In The Congo – a son of Snitzel who was recently retired and will stand this spring at Newgate Farm at a fee of $33,000 (inc GST).

She made a sale-topping $1.8 million, with Arrowfield Stud and Hermitage Thoroughbreds seeing off a host of underbidders.

Purchased by Silverdale Farm/Shrone Bloodstock for $600,000 from the Newhaven Park draft at the 2022 Magic Millions Gold Coast National Weanling Sale, the filly’s 2023 sale figure makes her the biggest pinhook in Australian history, while it was also a record for her sire, whose oldest progeny are 2-year-olds.

Grant said it was Petith – the farm’s manager, who joined the company in 2020 after 10 years as stud manager with Canning Downs in Queensland – was the key driver behind going to $600,000 for her as a weanling, although he did have some assistance.

“We have the debate, but Rob has the final say regarding what we’re buying,” Grant explained.

“At the time, Rob had broken his ankle, so he was a bit limited in getting around. Brian McGuire was a great help for him and did a lot of the shortlists and things like that.

“Usually it’s me who’s pushing us on price and everything else.

“In the past, when we bought Pantonario, for instance, she was the highest-priced weanling in her sale (2020 Inglis Australian Weanling Sale) and I really pushed the team hard to pay the money. In this case (buying the weanling by The Autumn Sun), we hadn’t put a bid in and she was already up to $575,000; so it was our first bid and the last strike.

“In the 15 seconds we had to discuss whether to go to $600,000, it was a robust conversation.

“We paid the money and then got the chance to put her through (at Easter).”

Grant explained the farm’s strategy when it comes to pinhooking.

“It’s going through the figures, looking at the risk and then going from there,” he said.

“We watch the weanling market very strongly and one of our offsiders was reporting to us on every sale and every yearling that was going to Easter that had been pinhooked.

“It’s not done by accident, it’s really a close game… we make sure we keep a close eye on things and manage the risk.”

A beautiful synergy

There’s a lovely backstory to the sale of this stunning filly, and Arrowfield principal, John Messara, deserves some credit, for he was the man that introduced Grant to Petith at the 2015 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale.

Grant explained: “I was discussing designing training centres with John Messara; we were standing beside a speaker and our conversation was interrupted by an announcement that the Best Prepared Draft had been won by Canning Downs. I said to John, ‘Gee, I haven’t heard of Canning Downs; and he said, ‘You should go around and meet the young guy that runs the place, he’s really, really good’. So, I went and met Rob, had a look at his draft, and although I had no plans of getting a farm up and going, I thought, ‘When I do, that bloke is going to run it for me’.

Steve and Rob, image courtesy of Inglis

“Sure enough, so many years later, it came to be… thankfully, Rob said he would come and run the farm for us.

“Those three things aligned again; John Messara, Rob Petith and myself.”

An outstanding filly that exceeded expectations

Given her type, combined with her outstanding pedigree, Grant was positive the filly would make good money.

“She’s a lovely filly. When we bought her home, Rob and I were standing there looking at her in the yard and admiring her,” Grant said.

“Rob did such an amazing job with her.

“It didn’t hurt with (Newgate Farm’s) Henry (Field) doing a lot of advertising for In The Congo (recently), so it was great, it all came together well.”

Grant admitted he and Petith ummed and ahhed regarding the filly’s reserve price. In the end, it mattered little.

“We debated a reserve of between $1 million and $1.2 million and ended up going with $1 million,” he said.

“I thought the most we would get would be $1.4 million, but of course you always hope a miracle happens and it did.

“A lot of the time you don’t get to see your horse get sold, but we were close to the action and the auctioneer, Brett, took it slow, so we got to watch it first-hand. The people on her, we talked to a number of them in the last hour or so before she went up.

“She had all of those top people that you want bidding on your horses and when you get to see it play out in front of you, it’s great.”

Arrowfield Stud principal John Messara, who raced the five-time Group 1 winner, The Autumn Sun, in partnership with Hermitage Thoroughbreds, said the filly was a “princess”, one they simply had to get their hands on.

“She’s a beautiful filly, very well-related,” Messara told TDN AusNZ.

“She’s by what I think will end up being a very good sire.

“She was a terrific physical, very imposing.

“She walked well, she did everything well; she’s a proper princess, an absolute beauty.

“And she was very well prepared by Silverdale, they did a great job.

“There were no deficits.

“We were keen to buy something special by The Autumn Sun – we had one in our draft, the Grisifilly – but we’ve got her dam and a baby at foot and more coming, so we thought, ‘If we can get the Grisi filly sold at the right price, we can do it (buy the Via Africa filly)’.

“You don’t get many like them, where they have that pedigree and those looks.”

Article courtesy of TDN AUSNZ, written by Trent Masenhelder.

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