AN EXCITING four-year-old, an Echuca Cup winner, an emerging sprinter and a dual city-winning stayer shape as the leading contenders for the Bendigo Trainers’ Association 2017-18 horse of the year award.
Miss Leonidas, Glenrowan Prince, Savaju and Weave will be among the more fancied contenders for the award, which will be presented at the association’s annual awards night on Saturday night.
The horse of the year will be just one of the accolades up for grabs, with the best three-year-old, leading sprinter, best middle distance galloper and top stayer awards to be announced along with the year's leading trainer.
Kym Hann, who finished the season with nine winners and will be a leading contender for the training award, will be chasing back-to-back horse of the year tiles with Glenrowan Prince.
The seven-year-old gelding captured last season’s award with four wins from nine starts, including a first-ever city winner for his trainer.
Glenrowan Prince overcame a lengthy layoff with a fetlock injury to win a pair of $70,000-plus races in March, including the VOBIS Gold Eldorado at Wangaratta and the Echuca Cup.
He was also placed at Caulfield in February.
Glenrowan Prince was one of three Bendigo horses to earn more than $100,000 in prize money last season, together with the Shaun Dwyer-trained Miss Leonidas and the Anne Yates-trained Weave.
Miss Leonidas staked his claim for the top honour with wins at Ballarat in May and Moonee Valley a month later in a $120,000 three-year-old fillies event.
The now four-year-old also won on debut at Echuca last November and earned more than $145,000 in prize money for the season.
The third of the trio Weave shot to prominence with a pair of Friday night 3000m wins at Moonee Valley last November for his trainer Anne Yates.
The now six-year-old gelding started a consistent season in good form with a second over 1900m on the synthetic track at Geelong in August, a win at Benalla and a second at Bendigo in September.
Others with claims include a second O’Dwyer trained galloper Savaju, whose three starts at Moonee Valley included a win and second and fourth placings.
FINALISTS (trainer in brackets)
Three-year-olds: Heavenward (Shaun Dwyer); Huge Action (Andrew Sawden); Miss Leonidas (Shaun Dwyer).
Sprinter (up to 1400m): Glenrowan Prince (Kym Hann); Our Sevira (Allen Browell); Savaju (Shaun Dwyer).
Middle distance (1401m-2000m): Cooter Cha Cha (Daryn Drust); Manhattan Menage (Danny Curran); More Spark (Shane Fliedner).
Stayer (over 2000m): Grassini (Brett Charry); Vungers (Brendon Hearps); Weave (Anne Yates).