Vendors at one of racing's most successful sales are hoping racetrack results can help overcome closed borders for the first time in the history of New Zealand's thoroughbred sales industry.
It is getting close to business time for 311 two-year-old gallopers who will go under the hammer at New Zealand Bloodstock's famed Ready To Run sale, which has produced superstars like Te Akau Shark, Mongolian Khan and Turn Me Loose.
While the sale itself is not until November the all-important breeze ups, when horse are put through their paces in videoed track gallops at Te Rapa, are just two weeks away.
At that stage the sale build-up will be largely business as usual, with all horses timed over their final 200m, the footage scoured by both domestic and overseas buyers looking to buy horses who could be racing in just a few months.
But what will change is this year's sale will see next to no overseas buyers at Karaka because of the Covid travel restrictions, forcing a change in thinking for almost everybody involved.
Local buyers or simply people who like looking at pretty horses will be able to attend Karaka as long as the domestic Covid restriction levels don't increase, but overseas buyers will have to reply on phone or online buying.
And that is where NZB is hoping the undeniable results of the sale are taken what really matters.
"It is an unusual situation for everybody and obviously we would love to have all our overseas potential buyers able to attend," says NZB sales manager Danny Rolston.
"But those buyers also know how successful this sale is and they can't afford to miss opportunities just because they can't be here.
"The bottom line is this is the best ready to run sale in the Southern Hemisphere by so far it isn't even a competition.
"And that is built on the back of the Kiwi horse trading tradition which has been going on for decades.
"Buyers know these horses are for sale and know they go on to win group ones in Australia and South East Asia so we just have to help make buying them under these different circumstances as easy as possible." Rolston admits some Australian trainers in particular initially baulked at buying horses they haven't been able to inspect in person but many later warmed to the idea.
"I think that has created some really good opportunities for our local agents to work with the overseas buyers and help then source horses they want," says Rolston.
"And it also means the vendors have had to be innovative in how they market, with a strong emphasis on digital marketing and online videos of the horses."
The Breeze Ups coverage will also have plenty of vendor interviews and comments attached to them and will not only be available online but screened on Australia's two racing networks.
"When we started talking to some of the overseas trainers they were initially reluctant and then the more they realised how much information and expertise was available to them they warmed to the idea.
"And we are spending a lot of time on our online bidding platform, which will have the horses in the ring streaming in on corner of the screen and the chance to bid online in real time on the same page.
"To be honest, it is impossible to gauge how many horses we will sell off shore but any time the sales industry encounters an issue, even though this exact situation is obviously unprecedented, it tends to lead to opportunities."
While there will be no overseas visitors at Karaka, overseas stallions will have a huge representation, with over 20 Australian-based stallions having sons and daughters in the sale.
"We can see as well as phone bidding and online some of the local agents doing business for overseas buyers but it shouldn't be forgotten this sale has been enormously successful for New Zealand trainers.
"Horses like Turn Me Loose, Mongolian Khan and Te Akau Shark may have all won group ones in Australia but they were all trained here and of course the sale will be business as usual for local trainers, maybe with the potential bonus of a little less competition."
READY TO MORE THAN RUN
Some of the stars sold at the NZB Ready to Run Sale
* Te Akau Shark
* Beat the Clock
* Golden Sixty
* Vin de Dance
* Mongolian Khan
* Turn Me Loose
* Hall Of Fame
* The Mitigator
* The Holy One
READY TO RUN SALES
What: New Zealand Bloodstock's hugely successful sale of early season two-year-old thoroughbred
Where: Karaka sale complex
When: November 18 and 19
Who: 311 two-year-old gallopers
The prep: Horses have videoed workouts known as Breeze Ups at Te Rapa on October 12 and 13
Catalogue: Available at www.nzb.co.nz