There will be plenty of debate over which of Care To Think, The Monstar and Victorem will be named horse of the year after the finalists for the NSW Country and Provincial racing awards were announced on Friday.
Each nominee has grounds for taking the title. Country Championships winner Victorem won three of his four starts for the season and is probably the frontrunner despite not racing out of restricted grade.
Country finalists: Ben Looker drives Victorem to victory in the Country Championships final at Randwick.
The Monstar was a group 2 winner in the Moreton Cup during the Brisbane winter carnival and also group-placed, while Care To Think won the Magic Millions Cup in January as he put four wins together before taking on the top level later in the year.
The three would all be considered locks for slots in the Kosciuszko.
Victorem’s jockey Ben Looker is a finalist for country jockey of the year along with Greg Ryan and Matthew Cahill, while the trainers of Care To Think and The Monstar, Matt Dunn and Brett Cavanough, are finalists for trainer of the year along with Gayna Williams.
The awards will be announced at the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney on September 29, where Ceejay Graham will be crowned leading country apprentice and Ricky Blewitt the top picnic rider.
The night will also feature the Provincial awards, which have brought together a group 1 field for the horse of the year award.
Newcastle trainer Ben Smith has two finalists in Galaxy winner and Everest-bound In Her Time and Sires Produce Stakes winner El Dorado Dreaming. Other finalists are Queensland Derby winner Dark Dream for Kerry Parker, Le Romain for Kris Lees and Single Gaze, formerly trained by Nick Olive.
Club award finalists
Outstanding Achievement Award: Coonamble Jockey Club, Dubbo Turf Club, Mudgee Race Club, Shoalhaven Turf Club, Warren & District Jockey Club. Community Race Club of the Year: Bong Bong Picnic Race Club, Coonabarabran Jockey Club, Duck Creek Picnic Race Club, Narrandera Race Club. Country TAB Race Club of the Year: Murrumbidgee Turf Club, Muswellbrook Race Club, Sapphire Coast Turf Club, Tamworth Jockey Club.
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