MILES-based trainer Bevan Johnson has doubled his chances of snaring the Battle of the Bush when the curtain falls on the series on June 22.
The Johnson stable was the first into the $125,000 final, to be run over 1200 metres at Eagle Farm in Brisbane, when country king Fab's Cowboy won the opening qualifier at Gladstone on April 20.
A bit over two months later Hanover Square (Manhattan Rain-Beam), a stablemate to Fab's Cowboy, earned his ticket to the big smoke when successful in the Barcaldine leg of the series on June 8.
Ridden by apprentice Minonette Kennedy, Hanover Square just scraped home ahead of the $2.80 race favourite Kakakenny (Brooke Richardson).
Timetus ($7) travelled from Craig Smith's Roma yard for a third placing.
Hanover Square's win, his sixth at start number 42, surprised many. Despite fair lead-up form, he was allowed to go to the barriers at $15, just $2 shy of the highest priced contender.
In Cairns on June 10, Janel Ryan won her way through to the big final when How Can I Help made light work of his topweight handicap.
Ridden by Robert Thompson, Australia's most successful rider in terms of individual victories, How Can I Help was untroubled to beat Little Stryker (Pietro Romeo) by two and a half lengths win. Kahuna (Chelsea Jokic) was an identical margin away in third spot.