Close contest looming for Horse of the Year
Another tight battle is expected for the 2017 New Zealand Horse of the Year title, which will be announced in Auckland on Sunday night.
Just one vote separated the leading contenders for the 2016 title, with Mongolian Khan edging out his stablemate Turn Me Loose.
A sound case could be made for at least three contenders this year, though it would be a shock if the Horse of the Year came from outside a group comprising Kawi and the star three-year-olds Gingernuts and Bonneval.
A 57-member voting panel will determine the Horse of the Year and the six racehorse categories.
Bonneval and Gingernuts were the standout performers in a high quality three-year-old crop and recorded Group I wins on both sides of the Tasman.
Gingernuts completed a notable treble when winning the Group II Avondale Guineas, Group I New Zealand Derby and Group I Rosehill Guineas in successive starts, before finishing fifth in the Australian Derby.
Bonneval completed her season with four successive group wins and became the first filly for 27 years to win both the New Zealand Oaks and Australian Oaks. She won the Australian Oaks by more than four lengths and was unbeaten in four starts past 1600m.
Gingernuts began his four-year-old campaign in the Tarzino Trophy at Hastings last weekend and Bonneval will resume in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes at Moonee Valley, in Melbourne, on Saturday.
Bonneval and Gingernuts have yet to meet on the track, which adds to the degree of difficulty in assessing their respective performances in the 2016-17 season, but will clash more than once at the Horse of the Year Awards.
The pair are finalists in both the three-year-old and stayer categories, as is Australian Derby winner Jon Snow.
Kawi is also a finalist in two categories. He would be at short odds to win the middle distance award and is also a finalist for sprinter of the year.
The Taranaki galloper won three Group I weight-for-age races during the season. After winning the first two legs of the Hastings triple crown series he recorded his third win for the season in the Haunui Classic at Otaki.