FIVE lucky losers have forced their way into the top 16 for the $125,000 Battle of the Bush final (1200m) at Eagle Farm on June 22.
In an ideal world organisers would have a field full of winning qualifiers after offering 16 heats between April 20 and June 10 at tracks such as Longreach, Mt Isa, Bundaberg, Charleville, Thangool, Concurry and Barcaldine.
But three runners won two heats apiece - Fab's Cowboy in Gladstone and Cunnamulla, Stellar Knight in Bowen and Home Hill and Machu Picchu in Nanango and Warwick.
As well, the respective connections of Cairns June 10 winner How Can I Help and Bold Avenue, successful in Gordonvale on May 11, have not accepted for the race.
That meant race officials have granted lucky loser status to five other contenders to complete the field.
The fortunate five, and the regions they will be represent, are: Bush Caviar (Ilfracombe), Tycoon Zip (Oakey), Sweet Surprise (Mackay), Little Stryker (Innisfail) and Kahuna (Mackay).
Group 1 winning jockeys Jim Byrne (Bush Caviar), Matthew McGillivray (Malibu Affair from Roma) and Jamie Kah (Sweet Surprise) have already accepted mounts.
As well Justin Stanley will ride Stellar Knight, Leeane McCoy is on Music Scene and Hannah English has a booking for Machu Picchu.
In other early jockey news, former Brisbane apprentice Jason Babarovich and the Robert Burow-trained Split The Atom will try to repeat their Mt Isa qualifying win.
Gary Geran and Marksfield will team again and Brooke Richardson is to have the mount on Kakakenny for the Rodney Little stable.