By Kobie O'Brien
Ilfracombe trainer Rodney Little will be making his second trip to Brisbane with Kakakenny in as many years after the flashy grey earned a coveted spot in June's TAB Battle of the Bush Final at Longreach on the weekend.
One of four qualifiers held across Queensland on Saturday, the Longreach edition was expected to be a race for second behind 'bush champion' Fab's Cowboy.
Inside the 100m it appeared as though the Todd Austin-trained Avoid The Missus would book his place at Eagle Farm, until Kakakenny flashed at them late to book his ticket and a chance at $102,000.
Odds-on favourite Fab's Cowboy finished outside the placings for just the first time in his past 12 runs.
For Kakakenny, it was his first win since claiming the 2018 Longreach Qualifier to book his place in the inaugural Battle of the Bush Final.
Elsewhere, it was Deadly Choices who started favourite in the Mount Isa qualifier, aided by a stable accident forcing Jay Morris’ Damgoodchoice out of contention.
Coming off an 8-length last start win, Deadly Choices couldn’t quite make the jump up to open company, beaten 1.25 lengths by Mount Isa trainer Bob Burow’s Split The Atom.
It is the second year in a row Burow has qualified a horse for the final, making the trip to Brisbane with Galea Warrior in 2018.
In Gordonvale it was Bold Avenue for Ralph Baker and Bonnie Thompson who was too strong for favourite How Can I Help, while country cups contender The Greatest was 3rd in the small field of 6.
Like Kakakenny, it was Bold Avenue’s first win for some time, last saluting midway through 2018.
The Warwick qualifier saw Brian Laherty trained Machu Picchu take out the qualifier in the southern part of the state, proving too strong for the field that included last year’s finalist Go Get Sum and Country Cups winner Baker Boy.
After being defeated in a small field at Nanango at $1.60, Machu Picchu found some handy earlier form around the Sunshine Coast to hold out Drum Master and Baker Boy in a close finish which saw just 2.2 lengths between 1st and 6th.
This Saturday battle of the bush qualifiers will be held at Charleville and Home Hill.