INTER DOMINION winning horseman John Justice has been granted the opportunity to capture the prestigious series for the second time.
Justice secured the 2000 Melbourne edition of the Championship with rising star Shakamaker.
With Justice in the sulky, the four-year-old accounted for Breenys Fella and Happy Asset in 1:59.5 over 2540 metres at Monee Valley.
Shakamaker’s triumph came in the first harness racing event in the southern hemisphere to offer a $1million purse.
While Shakamaker was one of the main contenders, Justice’s latest shot at the industry’s ‘Holy Grail’ – which consists of a $500,000 Final – comes via the rank outsider, Hickstead.
In what appeared to an impossible task after being listed at 92 during the first round of rankings, Hickstead has forced his way into cut-off.
Along with the benefit of 52 scratchings, Hickstead’s solid form has seen him lifted to 35 on the final rankings released by Harness Racing Victoria today.
The son of Mach Three has a win and two seconds from his last three starts, including being runner-up behind the highly touted San Carlo in the Yarra Valley Cup.
Hickstead is a $201 chance with TAB Fixed Odds, having opened at $401 at which point owner Mark Gurry had a flutter according to Justice.
Last month’s Victoria Cup winner Tiger Tara, which tops the rankings, is the $4.50 favourite.
“At 92 we thought he wouldn’t make it, but we’re pretty happy to have him in it,” Justice said. “He’s going into it with the right form, but his odds explain his chances.
“Shakamaker was one of the top chances while Hickstead is the polar opposite as an outsider.”
Final rankings for the Pacers’ Inter Dominion – which is scheduled to begin with heats in Melton on December 1 – can be viewed here.