Barry Bowditch knows last year's National Weanling Sale is going to be a tough act to follow but the Magic Millions managing director has high hopes for this week's offering.
At least 328 youngsters will go through the Gold Coast sale ring on Thursday and Friday in the 2022 version of the sale that last year readjusted many records.
The 352 lots that were offered in 2021 grossed $31,724,500 at an average of $105,048 with a $52,250 median.
Those numbers dwarfed the figures of the 2020 sale, which was conducted in late July due to severe Covid restrictions, but they were also up significantly on 2019.
With fewer horses in the catalogue and the absence of a dispersal sale to match last year's Shadwell Stud draft, Bowditch stopped short of predicting last year's gross would be topped but he is happy with the quality of stock that has been assembled.
"There are a few less numbers than last year but I'm very happy with the quality of horse we've seen so far and very happy with how the catalogue looks on paper," Bowditch said.
"Obviously you'd love a few more horses in it, but what we do have is a quality line up of horses that pinhookers, end-users and anyone in between will be keen to participate on."
It was just the second seven-figure weanling to be sold in Australia behind the Redoute's Choice colt, who went on to become Foxtrot Oscar, who sold for $1.15m in 2007.
Eleven others sold for at least $500,000 last year. In 2019, the top lot was a Redoute's Choice colt who sold for $480,000.
The strength of the yearling sale market in Australia has forced buyers to re-evaluate their approach according to Bowditch.
"In recent years the weanling sale has definitely become a very sophisticated market," he said.
"Last year we had an unbelievable group of weanlings and what it did was open the eyes up to end-users and trainers to come and buy six to eight months earlier than they would at the yearling sales and grow them out and play the long game with them.
"I think that adds another edge to the market and, on top of that, we've still got lots of people coming here to pinhook to sell back through yearling sales all over Australasia."
The appearance of first season sires are always a highlight of weanling sales and Yes Yes Yes, Exceedance, Castelvecchio and Blue Point are among those who stood their first seasons in 2020 with weanlings in the catalogue.
I Am Invincible has one lot in the sale, a colt out of VRC Oaks winner Faint Perfume, so too Snitzel, Pierro, Lonhro and Kingman, while Written Tycoon, Zoustar, So You Think, Shamus Award, Frankel and Extreme Choice are among the other established stars with lots to be offered.