Little Digger rattled home to finish second to Caitlyn Keeping in his heat of the Ladbrokes Bathurst Cup but is boxed to reverse the placings in Friday night's $15,000 to the winner final.
In last Monday's heat Caitlyn Keeping drew box one and led all the way, setting up a huge early lead before scoring by three-and-a-half lengths from Little Digger, who had exited box six.
Nangar Gift led from the first turn to win the other heat in 30.00, but she had box one in that race and has drawn poorly in box five on Friday night.
Double Up Dee, who flashed home from an unsuitable box eight draw to be beaten three-quarters of a length by Nangar Gift, has again come up with the extreme outside alley.
While Caitlyn Keeping is almost certain to be the pacemaker again, Little Digger's strength at the finish of 520m could prevail.
Trainer Raymond Smith was delighted to see Little Digger (pictured) draw box one.
"He has had three starts this year after being breaking a toe last November,'' Smith said.
"Little Digger is a bit older now and is looking for a longer journey so after the Cup final I intend stepping him up in distance.
"But box one gives him a great chance because these days Little Digger lacks early dash but his heat run was his best this preparation.''
FORBES-based Smith also holds a strong hand in Friday night's other major Bathurst race, the 520m Bathurst GBOTA Maiden Final, with $6600 to the winner.
Solar Sky, trained by Smith, won her heat from box one in a slick 30.18, beating the strong finishing Nangar Jay, who had box eight, by three-quarters of a length.
The other heat was washed out but Smith's unraced youngster Wolf Ferrell came up trumps in a draw to make up the rest of the final field and will exit box six on Friday.
"Although Solar Sky has box one in her heat she is nicely drawn in box eight in the final because she likes to use a bit of the track,'' Smith said.
"Wolf Ferrell is inexperienced and while he has plenty of ability, he likes to rails, so he will need luck from box six.''
Nangar Jay, who flashed home in Solar Sky's heat last Monday, was beaten a length into third place by Wolf Ferrell in a three dog performance trial over 450m at Bathurst at her first public appearance in late December.
HARDAWAY Harada will be on trial for a start in the heats of the Group 2 Ladbrokes Cyril Rowe Bulli Gold Cup when he tackles a 450m fourth and fifth grade race at Maitland on Thursday.
The Ron Marsden-trained speedster, who has had 21 starts for 14 wins and seven placings, has drawn box three but will face stern opposition from brilliant front-runner One Hour Parking, who will exit box one.
Hardaway Harada has had only one start at Maitland, winning a similar race from box three on January 10 in 25.15sec, fastest time of the meeting.
"Hardaway Harada goes well at Bulli but I did not want to go back there with him on Saturday night because I don't like racing dogs too frequently on the same track,'' Marsden said.
"Hopefully he can go well at Maitland and then I'll have him ready for the 472m Bulli Cup heats on January 16.''