Karaka Million night is now shaping as the biggest date on the New Zealand racing calendar.
The glamour meeting at Ellerslie in late January was already set to double in importance, with the $1 million three-year-old race to join the annual $1m juvenile sprint, making it the only race meeting in New Zealand with two $1m races.
But as part of a huge shake-up of National Yearling Sales week, the meeting has not only been moved from Sunday to a Saturday night twilight but all six races are expected to be feature races.
"It is hugely exciting to be able to deliver something like this to New Zealand racing fans," said Auckland Racing Club chief executive Cameron George of their association with New Zealand Bloodstock.
The Karaka Million meeting is being brought forward a day in part to allow an opening night session of New Zealand Bloodstock's series the next night.
The country's richest two-year-old event will be run at Ellerslie on Saturday, January 27 with around 100 Premier yearlings to then go under the hammer on Sunday evening.
They will be the first of 700 horses catalogued together in the new 'Karaka Book I', as the traditional NZB sales categories of Premier, Select and Festival are replaced.
NZB managing director Andrew Seabrook said the changes will serve two positive purposes in particular.
"I'm absolutely certain this new structure will be a success. Selling 100 horses on Sunday night gets more horses in front of buyers early in the week and aids the troublesome transition vendors have always faced midweek," said Seabrook.
"We have done a lot of homework over the past several weeks and the feedback received from vendors and buyers has been pretty consistent.
"They want to see more horses sold in the first book and they want their second session horses, particularly those being sold on the Friday, to be on the property at Karaka in a more timely fashion." Book I horses will be sold from Sunday evening to Wednesday afternoon, rather than finishing on Tuesday afternoon as the Premier Sale has done for the past several years.
"The aim is to give the international buyers a reason to stay longer by giving them even more horses to look at on the sale ground at one time," Seabrook said.
"In theory, there will be at least 200 more horses being offered in front of a full overseas buying bench. It's an exciting change that we think will provide a positive boost to sales week for buyers and sellers alike."
The Premier, Select and Festival Sale names will be dropped in favour of Book I, Book II and Book III with Book II reduced to approximately 400 horses, set to be sold on the Thursday and Friday of sales week, while Book III will remain on the Sunday.
On the racing side the 2018 Karaka Million fixture, which will also host the $1m Karaka Million 3YO Classic, will continue as a six race twilight meeting with the support card expected to boast four new group races.
This will be finalised by NZTR bosses in the next month.
"A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes so I would particularly like to thank Auckland Racing Club chief executive officer Cameron George, director Russell Warwick and NZTR chief executive officer Greg Purcell in helping make this new date happen," Seabrook said.
"To accommodate the black type features, we have moved the Karaka Stayers' Cup to Sunday, January 14, which will be an ideal lead up to a 2400m group race on Karaka Million night," said George.