From this angle, the manicured paddocks and fountains appear almost to have come from a scene out of Versailles, but in fact it is Australia and this farm is an integral part of the most powerful racing stable in the country.
The familiar maroon and white colours of Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Australia are carried to victory by winners all around the country on most days of the week, but behind their burgeoning success is a meticulous breeding and racing operation that leaves no stone unturned in the quest for excellence.
State of the art racing stables in Sydney (Crown Lodge) and Melbourne (Carbine
Lodge) are where head trainer Peter Snowden puts the polish on hundreds of
horses each year that carry the Darley brand having been bred at their Kelvinside
headquarters in the Hunter Valley.
Between the pristine open paddocks of Kelvinside and the hustle bustle of The Metropolitantraining centres is a 'halfway house' of sorts in Osborne Park, which was opened to the media for a trackwork session earlier this week.
Situated just an hour's drive from Sydney on the Castlereagh Rd at Agnes Banks, Osborne Park is a practical, yet picturesque farm designed to help young thoroughbreds make the transition from raw talent to supreme competitor.
Home to 84 horses, housed in four spectacular barns, Osborne Park features a1400 metre Strathayr training track, a water walker and all the mod cons you would expect including a US developed insect repellent system in the stables to negate the age old problem of flies in summer!
"It's all about the environment and having a place where the horses can relax,
so we can train them with no rushing about," explained Peter Snowden, who comes
to Osborne Park each Monday, Wednesday and Friday for trackwork along with
stable jockey Kerrin McEvoy.
"The Strathayr track here is outstanding and it gives us options with the horses in town as well.
"At present the Visco ride track at Warwick Farm is being pulled up, which is causing problems, so we can just put the horses we want to gallop on the float and bring them over here.
"During all the wet weather last spring, Sepoy never missed a gallop and came out here all the time."
Osborne Park is where the babies do much of their early education and older horses come for a change of scene and freshen up.
"The relaxed atmosphere here is great, but you need the hustle bustle of the city stable as well to get the young ones used to it in preparation for race day," Snowden revealed.
"You can't have one without the other, they work together. Although in saying that some horses are trained here permanently as it just suits them best."
Group I ATC Champagne Stakes winner Skilled was trained from Osborne Park as is Lonhro's stakes-winning sister Shannara.
"When a horse has a hard run on a Saturday, they can be out here first thing Sunday morning in a lovely quiet paddock and spend a few days just poking along with the water walker and then come back to town refreshed," Snowden said.
"You can keep them up longer in this way and keep then happier with a horse like Pinwheel a good example."
A seven year-old son of Lonhro, Pinwheel won his 11th race last Saturday when taking out the Group III ATC Missile Stakes and is just $25,000 shy of cracking $1million in prizemoney.
"We have pretty much everything you could want here and while there were teething problems early as you would expect, it's now bedded down as the perfect compliment our city stables," Snowden said.
For a city slicker seeing Osborne Park for the first time at dawn with a chill in the air and a sliver of moon still lurking in a brightening sky, it's easy to see why Snowden is happy with all he surveys.
"When it was being built, I asked for one thing… please no lights, I don't want to have to be here before daylight!" he quipped.
Racing Operations Manager David Charles oversees the running of all three of Darley's racing centres and keeps a close eye on the staff and the horses incluidng stakes-winner Galah, who is in the centre of this group of three.
"We have a great team of people working for us and it's such an important part of training horses," he said.
"That's where Peter (Snowden) is very good. It's all about communication and getting the right information from the right people at the right time.
"We like to make everyone feel as though they are a part of a team and that they are valuable."
Also valuable are the horses and with a new batch of two year-olds coming through the system to learn their craft, speculation on future stars is a hot topic.
"You know which ones are bred to be special, but you can't focus too much on them," Charles said.
"You have to treat them all as equals, try them and let them show us what they can do.
"Some will surprise you and others disappoint. Sepoy is a good example, we certainly had no immediate expectation on him being by Elusive Quality from Watchful, but he just improved and improved."
Some of the most interesting youngsters in the new crop of Darley two year-olds are by Street Cry (IRE) and New Approach (IRE).
These are the first Australian bred runners by English Derby winner New Approach and the first Aussie crop for Street Cry conceived after he hit the big time and started covering at a fee of $110,000.
"It's the first time I've had horses by New Approach and Street Cry and so far I'm impressed," said Peter Snowden, pictured with Darley General Manager Henry Plumptre and Kerrin McEvoy.
"Street Cry is known as a Melbourne Cup sire because of Shocking, but we want to make him better known as a good sire across the board, so he covered quite a lot of speedy mares and already I'm seeing quite a few precocious types by him.
"The New Approaches are lovely horses, great temperament and conformation. We have at least four that should run early."
Snowden was also keen to highlight Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense (USA) as a sire to watch in the next 12 months.
"We've had a lot of them come through and when you put the work into them, they just lightened off, so you had to put them aside," he said.
"He's had a few winners in the past few weeks (including Mottled) and I think they just need that bit of time and I expect they are going to be very nice three year-olds."
One three year-old that is anticipated to be a force this spring for Darley is Helmet's three-quarter brother Epaulette (pictured Mark Smith) , who has finished pre-training at Osborne Park and is due to trial at Rosehill next Tuesday.
"He's come back in great shape and we'll look to start him off in the Group III Run for the Rose (September 1)," said Snowden.
"He ran Pierro to the shortest margin of any horse last season when he finished second in the Todman and then had no chance in the Slipper, so I think he's going to have a great campaign from seven furlongs up to a mile."