The international appeal of the Ready To Run thoroughbred sale shone through at Karaka yesterday.
The strong first day of sales matched last year's record returns, with the average price of $72,640 even slightly ahead of last year.
But it is the destinations of the top lots which best illustrates the sale's international flavour.
Five of the top 10 lots are heading to Hong Kong, with only one likely to stay in New Zealand.
Hong Kong trainer Dennis Yip led the way, paying the sales-topping $300,000 for a Casino Prince colt offered by Matamata's JK Farm, their sole entry in the sale.
Yip also outlaid $240,000 for a Towkay gelding from the group two winning mare Dancing Daze offered by Ohaupo's Beatson Stables.
Yip was full of praise for this year's sales offering.
"In the last few years there have been many good horses that have come up to Hong Kong from this sale and been successful, so you know it has quality horses," he said yesterday.
"This year, the quality of the horses is very good and so far I have been lucky to get the two that I wanted.
"Both of these horses have the qualities that I look for, which are first the conformation and then the action of the gallop, so I am very pleased.
"There are some that I would like to buy tomorrow as well so I will be back in the morning."
The second-highest price of the day went to a Lyndhurst Farm's Dubawi colt purchased by Michael Stedman Bloodstock for $250,000.
It was one of 14 entries for Mark and Shelley Treweek's Lyndhurst Farm, and has kept them on target to be the leading vendor for the sixth year in a row. They sold nine 2-year-olds yesterday for an average of $142,111, including four of the top 10 lots. Lyndhurst Farm has a further 11 entries catalogued today.
The second leading buyers were Michael Freedman and Michael Wallace, buying together for Singapore.
After purchasing the top price on the first last year - the dual winner in Singapore this season Super Shadow - the pair have secured four horses for $495,000 so far, including $175,000 for a Darci Brahma colt from Encosta de Lago mare Lacango bought from Oxford Thoroughbreds.
Darci Brahma ended the day as the leading sire by average (for three or more sold), with five sold for an average of $159,000 and a top price of $220,000 paid by Hong Kong trainer Ricky Yiu.
New Zealand Bloodstock director Petrea Vela was thrilled with the day's results. "The sale is tracking very well compared with last year, which was a record sale and in this climate that is wonderful.
"And the international interest has been great. The buying bench would be the strongest we have had at this sale and we are seeing horses heading to South Africa and Korea as well as more traditional markets."
Lots above $150,000 included: A/C Lyndhurst Farm, Cambridge: BB C Bernardini - Al Safa, NZB as agent Auckland, $160,000.
A/C JK Farm, Matamata: B C Casino Prince - Ausbred Chic, Dennis Yip, Hong Kong, $300,000.
A/C Clunbury Stables, Cambridge: B C Faltaat - Circus Dance, S Baertschiger, Singapore, $160,000.
A/C Beatson, Ohaupo: B G Towkay - Dancing Daze, Dennis Yip, Hong Kong, $240,000.
A/C Diamond Lodge, Cambridge: BR C O'Reilly - Espurante, VW Lai, Hong Kong, $220,000.
A/C Lyndhurst Farm, Cambridge: BR G Savabeel - Generous Nature, John O'Shea, NSW, $200,000.
A/C Ascot Farm, Cambridge: B C Fastnet Rock - Great Meadows, Tim Stakemire, Victoria, $200,000.
A/C Lyndhurst Farm, Cambridge: B C Fastnet Rock - Herzigova, Worldwide Bloodstock, South Africa, $160,000.
A/C Mana Park, Hamilton: B G Darci Brahma - Identity, R Yiu Hong Kong, $180,000.
A/C Oxford Thoroughbreds, Tirau: B C Darci Brahma - Lacango, Freedman/Wallace, Singapore, $175,000.
A/C Lyndhurst Farm, Cambridge: B C Darci Brahma - Lady Classique, R Yiu Hong Kong, $220,000.
A/C Lyndhurst Farme: B C Dubawi - Magic Tori, M. Stedman, NSW, $250,000.