Bank on the Osbornes

Aside from looking after the day-to-day operations of the farm – which this year stands seven stallions – Russell trains a small team of racehorses at nearby Benalla, while Caroline runs a thriving veterinary practice, sits on the committee of Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria and, until recently, was supervising home schooling for her young children.

The Osborne's celebrated success at Bendigo last Sunday with Dancing Duck - image Brett Holburt / Racing Photos.

So, the usual salutation of “how’s it going” to Caroline is usually summed up fairly succinctly with “It’s October for heaven’s sake!” (Editor’s note: we’re not sure Caroline said ‘heaven’ but we’re equally certain she wasn’t referring to the ducks on the river either).

Truth be known, Caroline couldn’t be happier with the farm’s progress and believes this will be the best year yet for Riverbank, which was established by Russell’s parents some 30 years ago.

“I reckon we’re poised to cover more mares this year than we ever had and with over 200 mares actually on farm, with a 100 that we’ll be foaling down, we’re having to turn some clients away for agistment,” Caroline points out. “We’re strictly breed-to-race here at Riverbank and, while a lot of farms don’t advertise themselves as such, we’re under no illusion as to what most broodmare owners want.

“Sure, we can all dream of a Golden Slipper or selling a yearling for $1 million at Easter, but the reality is that if you can offer the breed-to-race people a chance of going to the races, having a great time and picking up a regular cheque, then we’ve done our job.

“We know what those people want because we are those people … Riverbank breeds from about 20 mares annually which we then foal down, break in and are trained by Russell. He gets quite a few winners up this way and has quite the following among locals.”

Recent winners for Russell include Noble Nightowl, Red Impulse and Zooming Zebra – all by Riverbank stalwart, Redente – while Von Costa de Hero mare, Dancing Duck, lugged 63 kilos winning at Bendigo last Sunday.

Yet, while Caroline judges – with Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria cap firmly in place – that many of the state’s farms offer professional and affordable services, Riverbank definitely stands unique in one regard.

Prince of Caviar is a Premium stallion, click for more information.

“Well, we’re the only farm that stands a son of Black Caviar (Prince of Caviar) and a half brother to Winx (Boulder City) – the two greatest mares of our lifetime,” Caroline adds.

“Prince of Caviar has some absolutely cracking first foals – a really nice one born on farm last night as a matter of fact. He only had the six runs but at his second start finished a neck second to Extra Brut, who went on to win the (Group 1) Victoria Derby. The family needs no ‘selling’ whatsoever: apart from Black Caviar, other close relations include All Too Hard and Magnus while Ole Kirk and Hanseatic will be covering full books this spring.

Prince of Caviar filly from Silesia.

“Meanwhile, Boulder City’s oldest are just 2YOs and he covered sizeable books in his first two seasons – last year his fertility was 96.2%. Winx factor aside, he’s by Snitzel and sold for $2.3 million as a yearling. Unfortunately he never made it to the track due to a suspensory injury but we know quite a few trainers with a Boulder City and we’d be surprised if he isn’t making a name for himself in the next 12 months.”

While the Osbornes are clearly looking forward to seeing what unfolds with both Prince of Caviar and Boulder City, they also have a soft spot for their prolific Redoute’s Choice stallion, Redente.

“He (Redente) has pretty much put us on the map,” Caroline observes. “He was bred by Bob Scarborough we were lucky enough to acquire him as a yearling through Bob Norris, who was managing Wood Nook Farm at the time.

“Redente ended up being unraced due to a coffin joint cyst, so he went to stud as a 3YO and, despite covering limited books of mares, he consistently produces good country horses and, notably, Brenlyn’s Trooper who recently finished second in the Listed Creswick Stakes at Flemington. With a strike rate consistently above 60% he offers very good value for money.”

Aside from Prince of Caviar, Boulder City and Redente, Riverbank Farm this year stands: Group 1 winner and Group producer, Anacheeva; Group 1 winning 2YO, Skilled; Group 2 VRC Sires’ winner & stakes producer, Von Costa de Hero and; Wayed Zain, who is from a half to Champion Sire, Encosta de Lago.