The excitement of yearling sales week will be tinged with sadness for one of the country's leading thoroughbred nurseries.
The sons and daughters of deceased champion stallion O'Reilly, who go under the hammer at Karaka next Monday, will be his last to be sold in New Zealand.
A host of the world's most prominent racehorse owners, agents and trainers descend on Auckland for the 91st New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sales Series at Karaka, which begins at 10am on Monday.
A total of 1347 yearlings will be offered in three levels of sales as local and international buyers look to secure a future champion from the cream of the New Zealand thoroughbred crop.
While Waikato Stud's consignment will be among the most popular, principal Mark Chittick knows the sale is the end of an era for the business.
"I guess it will hit home a little when the sale is over as O'Reilly has been such a fundamental contributor to the growth and development of Waikato Stud," says Chittick.
"We're not dwelling too much on that as his presence will still be felt for many years to come through his success as a broodmare sire, while next year we will have the first progeny from his son Sacred Falls to offer which is very exciting."
Chittick admits he is looking forward to the start of the selling action on Monday.
"It's been a hectic time since well before Christmas, but now we're really in countdown mode to the start of the sale," he said.
"I actually prefer this time as it means we can concentrate on the one core job which is to present and sell our draft.
"We have over 90 horses to sell next week with most of them owned by the stud, so the focus is on finding a buyer for every one of them."
While O'Reilly has played his part in the development of the stud's legacy his associate sires Savabeel and Pins have also been instrumental in the success story.
"Savabeel has been phenomenal and his record is simply outstanding," noted Chittick. "His progeny are winning in our key markets, at all ages and over any distance.
"In the past couple of weeks, he's had a group one winning 3-year-old colt over a mile [Levin Classic winner Hall Of Fame], a 3200m stakes winning mare [Wellington Cup winner Savaria] and he is likely to have one of the favourites for the 2-year-old Karaka Million on Sunday [Hasahalo].
"Pins has also been magnificent and he continues to produce winners week in and week out."
While Chittick is hard pressed to nominate a favourite lot from their impressive draft at Karaka he does lean towards an impeccably-bred filly as his tip for one to watch during the sale.
"Our Savabeel filly from multiple group one winner Daffodil, Lot 109, is a real standout and could well be our best for this year," he said.
Cambridge Stud will be vying to reclaim the mantle of leading vendor, with a top-quality offering at this year's sale.
Before Curraghmore claiming that title in 2013, followed by the recent dominance of Waikato Stud, Cambridge Stud had headed the vendor aggregate list for 31 consecutive years.
"We have a draft that features a variety of the leading stallions in Australasia from the best maternal families that Cambridge Stud can offer," Sir Patrick Hogan said.
"We haven't left a single yearling at home from our 2015 foal crop with every one of them at the sale so we expect the breeding community to be excited about what we have to offer."
Hogan is hesitant to single out any particular yearling from his draft although he has an inkling that Lot 436, the filly by leading freshman sire Power from the Street Sense mare Superefficient along with Lot 130, the High Chaparral filly from Diamond Like will both attract their fair share of attention.
"Lot 436 is as nice a filly as you would find and is by a young stallion that has made a sensational start in Ireland and now New Zealand," he remarked.
"The Diamond Like filly is an absolute star and it wouldn't surprise me if she ended up in the top four or five that are sold."
- NZ Racing Desk