Champion racemare Avantage has saved her greatest New Zealand performance for last by being sold for a jaw-dropping $4.1 million in a frenetic online auction tonight.
The nine-time Group 1 winner was only retired from racing because of a minor tendon injury last Friday but has smashed all sorts of records on her way to being knocked down to global racing powerhouse Coolmore, led by Australian principal Tom Magnier.
Bidding on the GavelhousePlus platform used by New Zealand Bloodstock for elite thoroughbreds, Magnier outbid another Australian breeding establishment, likely to be Yulong Investments, in a wild half hour of bidding.
That saw Avantage's price go from $1.8 million with 10 minutes of the three-day auction left, to $4.1 million as the two heavyweights traded bids seconds apart, a private war from when their last rival dropped out at $2.5 million.
"It was pretty exciting here in the office," said Magnier, bidding from New South Wales.
"We know what a great mare she is and we are proud to bring a champion daughter of Fastnet Rock to Australia.
"We have plenty of great stallion options here so will get her across this weekend and make a final decision on who she goes to next week."
So would Magnier had kept going higher had his hand been forced?
"When you have the stallion power we do, you go into these battles pretty confident," he said.
Avantage's record sale put the exclamation mark on her wonderful New Zealand career but her trainer Jamie Richards still has plenty of Group 1 female firepower to aim at the spring features, with two of them in play in Australia this weekend.
Probabeel joins fellow Kiwi galloper The Chosen One in a five-horse A$1 million Underwood Stakes to be run at Sandown outside Melbourne on Saturday, with plenty of leading weight-for-age stars scared off from the race by the presence of Cox Plate favourite Zaaki.
Even if the New Zealanders can't beat Zaaki, who opened a $1.25 favourite for the 1800m Group 1, they are guaranteed decent pay days with the last horse home in the Underwood earning A$25,000, with a A$45,000 stake for beating just one rival home.
The pair headline a huge New Zealand contingent at Sandown with Elephant a warm favourite for the A$200,000 Sandown Stakes, the unbeaten Cambridge Stud-owned filly Zouzarella an even hotter favourite for the A$160,000 fillies race.
Former New Zealand Derby winner Sherwood Forest starts in a 1800m handicap while last season's New Zealand Cup winner Dragon Storm makes his Australian debut for new trainer Mike Moroney in a different 1800m event.
Richards also has Entriviere as a $2.10 favourite for the A$400,000 Group 2 Golden Pendant, in which she steps up to 1400m.
The race will almost certainly be Entriviere's final lead-up to the A$2 million The Invitation in Sydney on October 23, a race for which she has firmed into $2.60 favouritism with some key rivals unlikely to start.
One of those is English 1000 Guineas winner Mother Earth, who had earlier been touted as heading to the race but is now instead heading to the Breeders Cup in the US.