The Australian Easter yearling sale posted a diminished average of Aus$131,772 (approximately $80,983) during its opening session Tuesday in Sydney, Australia. It represented an almost Aus$25,000 ($15,364) retreat on the previous year's opener.Trade was a subdued with turnover receding to Aus$18,184,500 million ($11,175,648). Median for the 138 head sold held firmer at Aus$100,000 ($61,457). RNAs ran close an all-time Easter high with 62 yearlings or 31% bought back.The SARS epidemic on top of the war in Iraq are factors working against this sale; Asian buyers are far less conspicuous. The domestic market could not take up the slack, at least on the first of three sessions.Opening day in 2002 had seen Aus$25.3 million spent on 162 head at an average Aus$156,000 and a median of Aus$102,500. RNAs were less than 18%. Overall, the sale grossed almost Aus$65 million, returning a Aus$160,780 average on 404 head.High for the 2003 opening session was Aus$675,000 ($414,835) paid by New Zealand trainer Roger James for a Danehill first-foal filly from Foxwood. Under the tutelage of James, Foxwood won the Captain Cook Stakes (NZ-I) and four other races.Underbidder on the Coolmore-consigned filly was Sydney bloodstock agent Tim Boland, for Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, attending this sale for the first time. They were more successful in securing the lone Sunday Silence filly from Felicitation, from champion distaffer Emancipation. The price was Aus$350,000 ($215,100).Danehill's filly from the high class Champagne left the ring unsold, but agents for the Hong Kong Jockey Club swiftly negotiated a deal for Aus$525,000 ($322,650) from Cambridge. The transaction was recorded on official results with similar alacrity.North American shuttlers with yearlings to sell included Red Ransom, his first-day nine averaged Aus$136,364 ($83,805).Belong To Me had four average Aus$118,750 ($72,980); End Sweep, four for Aus$48,750 ($29,960); Favorite Trick, three for Aus$50,000 ($30,729); Marquetry, two for Aus$60,000 ($36,874); Stravinsky four for Aus$106,250 ($65,298); Woodman, three for Aus$48,333 ($29,704).A colt by Nureyev realized Aus$250,000 ($153,642) and fillies by Rahy and Real Quiet Aus$120,000 ($73,748) and Aus$200,000 ($122,914), respectively. The sale continues with an evening session on Wednesday and concludes the following day.