THEY combined for seven wins - two of them at metropolitan level - and more than $279,100 in prize money in a stellar first season training in Bendigo for Mick Sell.
But can Carlingford or Penny To Sell deliver the former Kyneton trainer a first Bendigo Trainers' Association horse of the year title?
The stable hopes so, while conceding the top honour would be extremely hard won up against the likes of Listed race winner Miss Leonidas and the Kym Hann-trained pair of Like To Think So and All About Nicci.
In a frank assessment of their chances, stable spokesperson Mel Sell said there was no doubt the Shaun Dwyer-trained mare Miss Leonidas was the horse to beat.
"I give full respect to Miss Leonidas, winning a stakes race, knowing how hard they are to win," she said.
"If you were put me in the spot in terms of our best chance, the queen (Penny To Sell) gets the honours. It's pretty hard to argue against.
"She won four races in one year. For a seven-year-old mare, it was an impressive campaign.
"I don't want to take anything away from All About Nicci, she won two metro races as well, but obviously Miss Leonidas winning a stakes race puts her right up there.
"No one can fault how hard it is to win black type (races) and to be consistently placed in town."
Regardless of the outcome, Mick Sell, who is already assured the leading trainer title for 2018-19 with 16 winners, can look back on a fantastic season with plenty of pride.
His arrival in Bendigo was in many ways illuminated by the success on Bendigo Cup day of Carlingford, with the same tough gelding putting the seal on a brilliant 12 months with an emotional win at Bendigo on July 28, with apprentice Jessie Philpot in the saddle.
In between there were regular highlights, many of them supplied by the stable warrior Penny To Sell, the undisputed favourite to claim the middle distance horse of the year award, ahead of stable-mate Raid The Cabinet and the Matthew Enright-trained Peninsula Boy.
The now eight-year-old mare underline her immense appeal by finishing top-15 in public voting for the inaugural $5 million All Star Mile voting.
Along the way there were wins in a feature sprint at Bendigo in October at odds of 150-1; in the Dunkeld Cup in November; at Flemington in December; and Morphettville in a benchmark 90 in February.
A stellar 12 months for Penny To Sell yielded $167,250 in prize money from 14 starts, compared with $132,850 for Carlingford (three wins and four placings from 20 starts).
While the season brought plenty of highs and lows, both on and off the track, Mel Sell sad the stable had every right to feel proud with its efforts.
"Being tough on ourselves, in all honesty we had an ordinary middle of the season - it got a bit quiet there for a while," she said.
"Unfortunately that is racing, you have to go through the motions a bit sometimes with horses you know aren't champions.
"But overall, it was a pretty damn good year."
The end to the 18-19 Racing season a year with a new home base @BendigoJC an #AllStarMile campaign with @DunkeldCup & @FlemingtonVRC winner Penny To Sell a stellar campaign for Carlingford & River Lee incl. Listed form plus wins from other steeds. Thank you to our loyal clients pic.twitter.com/hO4tRnsImt— Mick Sell Racing (@msellracing) July 31, 2019
Full BTA horse of the year nominees
Two-year-old: Hi Stranger, St Edward's Crown, Travail.
Three-year-old: In Her Honour, Lady Solly, Queen Guinevere, Septzento, Tatunka.
Sprinter: All About Nicci, Carlingford, Like To Think So, Miss Leonidas.
Middle distance: Peninsula Boy, Penny To Sell, Raid The Cabinet
Stayer: Fold, Grassini, Westham.
Picnic: Fold, Norsika.
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