An outstanding field is set to contest the final of the Group 2 Skill Training Victoria Shepparton Cup on Friday night and Pearcedale trainer Jason Thompson will once again play a leading hand in a feature race after his pair of finalists El Brooklyn and Don't Knocka Him drew boxes one and eight respectively.
Speed machine El Brooklyn, winner of the Warrnambool Classic in May, maintained her unbeaten record at the Shepparton track when she clocked a flying 25.11 to record the fastest heat time and from box one the daughter of El Galo and Dark Marne will more than likely start the punters elect in the $42,000 to the winner final.
After being headed by Cawbourne Smash in the early stages, El Brooklyn railed through to take the lead at the first turn and despite being held up for clear galloping room for several strides managed to explode away from her opposition and hold off the challenge of Allen Hertz who did well to get within a length and a half of her as she made it win number fifteen from start 22.
Thompson's Golden Easter Egg winner Don't Knocka Him came from mid field on the side to record a strong 25.38 heat win at his first race start for two months and while his record suggests he is better suited drawn near the rails he is drawn to stay clear of trouble and will no doubt make his presence felt.
Master trainer Graeme Bate has qualified three runners in the final including the speedy Classy Maldini who makes it through to his fourth country cup final in 2012 after contesting the Warragul, Warrnambool and Bendigo Cup finals already this year.
Classy Maldini showed his customary speed to score an all the way 25.24 heat win while Bate's other runners include the promising Leeroy Rocker, whose 25.35 victory was his seventh win from just eight career starts and the ever consistent Allen Hertz who finished runner up to El Brooklyn.
Second fastest qualifier was consistent sprinter Blackalls Boss who registered a slick 25.14 heat win though the Traralgon Cup finalist is awkwardly drawn in box three outside the two speedsters of the race.
Bubba's Dream put in the run of the night to score a barnstorming heat win in 25.39 while the other heat was taken out by Stagger in 25.69 and he will be one of the roughies of the final as he looks to add the Shepparton Cup to his Warragul Cup victory earlier in the year.
The eight finalists have amassed in excess of $800,000 in career earnings and a further $60,000 is up for grabs on Friday night with the winner to pocket $42,000.
The box draw in order for the 2012 Group 2 Skill Training Victoria Shepparton Cup is: 1. El Brooklyn; 2. Classy Maldini; 3. Blackalls Boss; 4. Stagger; 5. Leeroy Rocker; 6. Bubba's Dream; 7. Allen Hertz; 8. Don't Knocka Him; 9. Mepunga Geordie; 10. Lektra Johnson