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 from an outstanding three-year-old crop and recorded Group One wins on both sides of the Tasman.
Gingernuts completed a notable treble when winning the Gr.2 Avondale Guineas, Gr.1 New Zealand Derby and Gr.1 Rosehill Guineas in successive starts, before finishing fifth in the Gr.1 Australian Derby.
Bonneval completed her season with four successive group wins and became the first filly for 27 years to win both the Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks and Gr.1 Australian Oaks. She won the latter event by more than four lengths and was unbeaten in four starts past 1600m.
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 the Gr.1 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 One 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. – NZ Racing Desk.