SHAUN Dwyer had plenty of reasons to smile on Saturday night.
A memorable day for the dual Group 1-winning trainer included a win at Wangaratta with Brother Paul followed by success in the Bendigo horse of the year award with stable star Miss Leonidas.
The classy stakes-winning mare beat out a strong field of contenders for the honour, headed by the Mick Sell-trained Penny To Sell, who was crowned middle distance horse of the year, and the Kym Hann-trained mare All About Nicci.
That trio, together with Like To Think So (Hann), combined for seven metropolitan wins during the season and were among five horses to top more than $100,000 in prize money.
Miss Leonidas was virtually assured the major award, after she claimed the top sprinter award earlier in the night.
It was Dwyer's third horse of the year award win.
He previously won the award in 2012-13 with Group 2 and dual Listed race-winner Villa Verde and 2010-11 with Anudjawun.
Dwyer reiterated his plans to target the Group 2 McEwen Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley on September 7 and hopefully the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m) at the same venue three weeks later.
He said the mare would be retired to stud following one final campaign in the autumn.
A lucrative season for connections with Miss Leonidas included a stakes win in April and city placings in four of her other five starts.
Brother Paul's 1400m win was the five-year-old gelding's second on end after his success at Wodonga earlier this month.
A successful first full season in Bendigo for Mick Sell earned him the leading trainer award, with 16 wins for the season, including one apiece in Melbourne and Adelaide.
Award winner Penny To Sell contributed four of those wins, with victories in Bendigo at odds of 150-1, the Dunkeld Cup, Flemington and Morphettville.
Veteran trainer Arthur Pace picked up two awards - one for best picnic horse with Fold and the other for the season's top strike rate of 17 per cent, with four winners from 23 starters.
Exciting city-winning filly St Edward's Crown delivered Shane Fliedner the best two-year-old award.
Fliedner accounted for all three nominations in the category, with St Edward's Crown joined by Hi Stranger and Travail.
The promising Bob Donat-trained gelding Tatunka claimed the three-year-old title, while Grassini won the leading stayer award for trainer Brett Charry.
Former Bendigo journalist and Moonee Valley Racing Club media and content executive Ben Sporle was a popular winner of the Donna Philpot Memorial Award for special achievement and his contribution to local racing.
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