The multi-million dollar Karaka National Yearling Sale has undergone a makeover this year in the hope that international buyers will stay longer and spend more.
It's the biggest week of the year for the thoroughbred breeding industry, with buyers from around the world flying over to shop for what they hope will turn into a success story.
This year, there were two $1 million stake races held at Ellerslie Racecourse on Saturday evening before the sales started, then on Sunday night 100 horses went under the auctioneer's hammer, a day earlier than usual.
During the week long sales 1200 yearlings will be sold.
Ten years ago a record was set with more than $111m of bloodstock traded.
Head of NZ Bloodstock Andrew Seabrook hoped that, with a new format, the week's tally would climb higher than the $82m sold in 2017.
"We're trying to entice international buyers to stay here longer by offering more horses over the first few days ... crossed fingers it's going to work well."
And with the Sunday night sale under his belt, Mr Seabrook was feeling quietly confident about the week ahead.
"This is probably the best opening session we've seen at Karaka to date, with really good reports on the overall quality on offer this year, and great depth to the buying bench, it bodes well for the momentum to continue."
On Sunday night 76 of the 100 horses sold for a combined $11.5m, and Mr Seabrook said the clearance rate was an extremely pleasing 81 percent - as strong as ever witnessed over Karaka's first three hours of selling.
New Zealand thoroughbreds are well known around the world.
Twenty-five percent of Melbourne Cup winners in the past 20 years have been New Zealand bred, and nine New Zealand horses have won the Singapore Derby in the past 15 years.
In the 2016/2017 racing season New Zealand exported 1771 thoroughbred race horses, worth over $138m.
"Our biggest market has always been Australia, has been since they bought Phar Lap off us, and is still our most important market today.
"Last year they spent $36 million at Karaka during the week. Hong Kong is a significant market as well, Singapore and China is a growing market too."
'One chance to get it right'
Highden Park sold the most expensive filly at the Sunday evening sale - fetching $500,000 for a bay yearling out of Bagalollies and by Tavistock. The filly was bought by bloodstock agent Dean Hawthorne.
Getting a yearling ready for the annual sale is a huge job, and Libby Bleakley from Highden Park is in charge of making sure her farm's horses catch the eye of the highest bidder.
"You only get one chance to get it right, which is why every time this filly comes out to be presented to a potential buyer she needs to look her best, behave her best and to put every single ounce of her being into each presentation.
"You never know which one of these potential buyers is going to be the buyer."
Each yearling is three years in the making, from the planning and mating, through to raising and handling of them - but it all comes down to just a few moments in the sale ring.
"You hold your breath on them for three years to get here and then when the hammer drops and the horse is safely back in the box ... you suddenly don't realise how long you've been holding your breath for - it's a good feeling."
The Highden Park filly is owned by a syndicate led by Tommy Heptinstall, who got into the racing business as a hobby and ended up with shares in the stallion Tavistock.
"The fillies are funding my racing interest if you like... half a million dollars is a lot of money, I'm more than happy with it.
"I never dreamt of the day that I'd be standing here getting half a million for a yearling," he said.
Tavistock yearlings made up half of the top 10 horses sold at Karaka on Sunday.