Lower Belford trainer Todd Howlett was pleased owner James Hack wanted to push on with their Country Championship plan, after Two Big Fari won the wildcard qualifier (1280m) at Muswellbrook on Sunday.
The four-year-old gelding held out former Provincial Championship winner Bobbing, trained at Scone by Bernie Kelly, in a high-class final heat. Both progressed to the $500,000 decider at Randwick on April 4.
Two Big Fari missed a start in the regional heat a Tamworth on ratings, prompting a trip to Warwick Farm for a 1400m race on March 11 to get his mark high enough to make the wildcard event.
In both races, Two Big Fari hit the lead close to home before holding out late challengers. He now has five wins in seven starts and was $8 with TAB for the final.
"I was nearly going to stop because I thought it was getting too hard to do, and then come back to 1280," Howlett told Sky Thoroughbred Central. "But his owner said, 'no, that was the plan, so let's keep going', so I'm pretty pleased we did."
Bobbing is second favourite at $6 for the final.
At Kembla Grange on Saturday, Enchanted Heart finished third in the Provincial Championship qualifier to give Newcastle trainer Kris Lees a fourth starter in the $500,000 final on April 11. Stella Sea Sun, Great Danger and Asharani have already qualified.
Gwenda Markwell-trained Electric Girl and Tracey Bartley's McCormack finished one-two on Saturday.
"I thought she was the winner on straightening, but it was a good run," Lees said of Enchanted Heart.