NOBLE Boy has been the ruling favourite to win the Country Championship Final since before the series began but it has taken him until the last moment to get into the field.
Trained by Todd Blowes at Queanbeyan, Noble Boy won his first four starts but faltered when fourth in his local qualifying heat at Goulburn on March 2.
He went to Muswellbrook on Sunday to try to force his way in via the Wild Card and duly got the job done, beating Safe Landing who also gained a berth in the $500,000 Final at Randwick on April 6.
Champion jockey Hugh Bowman made the trip to the Upper Hunter to ride Noble Boy after winning on him at Warwick Farm last month.
"It's heart in mouth stuff and a relief more than anything," Blowes told Sky Thoroughbred Central.
"All the markets suggested he should win.
"He was tough to the line and will be spot on for 13 days time."
Safe Landing's trainer Kurt Goldman said the winner was too good but he hoped the step up to 1400m in the final would suit.
"Sam (Clipperton) had a lot of faith in this horse," he explained.
"He said he wasn't entirely comfortable on the track today so back to a softer track, which we could get at Randwick, and a step up to 1400m should suit him.
"It's an exciting time."
Noble Boy is at $3 to win the Final with the Matt Dunn-trained La Scopa, the winner of the Grafton heat at $4.50, and all other horses in double figures.