An academy in thoroughbred breeding and racing is looking for regional people with a love of horses.

Story Mandy McKeesick  Photo courtesy Silverdale Academy

Harrison Edwards is a man with a plan. After growing up in inner Sydney in a family with strong connections to thoroughbred racing, the 21-year-old completed an internship with the Silverdale Academy to further his aspirations of a career in racing administration. “I’ve been going to the races regularly since I was about 8 years old and, although I was not hands-on with the horses, I have always loved the thoroughbred as an animal,” he says. “Through Silverdale, I attended yearling sales and race trials, toured stables with leading trainers, learnt about horse-handling and networked with equine professionals. It opened my eyes to all the opportunities available in racing.”

The Silverdale Academy is now extending its reach to regional Australia to introduce thoroughbred breeding and racing to a new audience. “I think there may be young women and men out there on stations, etc, who have great horse skills and don’t understand how valuable those skills are,” Silverdale founder Steve Grant says. “We can get them into a career that could be much wider than they ever thought. The thoroughbred industry is one of the biggest employers in Australia.”

Steve is the owner of Silverdale Farm, a 105ha broodmare property at Avoca in the NSW Southern Highlands, which is quickly gaining a reputation for excellence. At the 2022 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, Silverdale horses achieved the highest average price. The same year a Silverdale-bred filly named Fireburn won the prestigious Golden Slipper.

But the thoroughbred sector is understaffed and, after attending a training and retention day at Randwick Racecourse, Steve decided to take matters into his own hands. “Over the course of the day I became frustrated with barriers to encouraging new employees. I went back to Silverdale and told our manager we were going into the training business – training people.” The Silverdale Academy was launched in 2021.

This story excerpt is from Issue #155

Outback Magazine: June/July 2024