The auction process at a thoroughbred sale is fundamentally no different from what transpires at your average real estate auction. Buyers must be registered with the Jockey Club before they can bid, and either have a permit to buy a horse or be one of those on the 'reserve list' who missed out when the permits were allocated earlier in the year. Despite the fact that the Jockey Club takes all possible care to present the 30 catalogued horses in perfect working order, buyers are encouraged to participate in extensive pre-sale inspections with their professional adviser - usually a bloodstock agent or trainer. Conditions of Sale 4 (b) makes the situation perfectly clear: 'The Purchaser acknowledges that he has made the purchase relying on his own and/or his Authorised Agent's expertise and inspection, and that he has not relied on or been induced in any way by any statement or representation made by the HKJC, the Auctioneer or any party purporting to act on their behalf.' In other words, let the buyer beware. The auctioneer will ask for an opening bid of approximately the market value of the horse (in his opinion), but invariably is forced to come right down to get a starting bid. Once the bids begin to flow, he builds the horse back up toward - and even beyond, subject to market forces - his market value. Bidders can either bid direct to the auctioneer, Nick Nugent, or to one of the many bid spotters strategically placed around the sale ring. Bidders are advised to be decisive. Many a nice horse has been lost because a potential buyer has simply taken too long to make up his mind whether to advance that one extra bid. Suddenly, with a heart-stopping bang, the auctioneer's gavel drops and the horse of your dreams has found a home that isn't yours. Sometimes, bids are disputed. An example might be that someone thinks he has entered the top bid, only to find the auctioneer knock the horse down to another party. In that situation, he may dispute the knock down and cause a re-sale, although such things will be strictly at the auctioneer's discretion, as defined in the Conditions of Sale. The Jockey Club demands payment for the Hong Kong International Sale horses within seven days.