Canberra trainer Matthew Dale waited nervously as The Kosciuszko slots were picked up one by one.
No call came for warrior Man Of Peace, who was bound to be snapped up quickly as a result of his tremendous run of form.
But two pensioners from Grafton came to the rescue on Wednesday afternoon and now stand to get the biggest pension cheque ever.
The lucky slot holders picked Dale's charge for the feature $1.3 million race at Royal Randwick on October 17.
The veteran son of Zariz was the 10th horse locked in, despite having won his past three Sydney races and being fourth in the line of betting at $9 by TAB.
Half of the 14 slots for the lucrative 1200-metre race were spoken for within hours of the ticket holders announcement, including last year's winner Handle The Truth.
"The lucky ticket winner from Grafton, Fred and his wife Ros, are pensioners in their 70s who bought a handful of tickets. They might have spent $25-odd and are now racing solid shares in a $1.3 million race, it's pretty exciting," Dale said.
"They own a couple of shares in horses around Grafton and love their racing, they follow it every week. They called me on Wednesday afternoon and we were able to do a deal and get Man Of Peace in the race.
"There were already about 10 horses picked up by then. I went into the situation thinking there was no doubt he would be picked up because he was one of the highest-rated horses in the race.
"I was surprised when he was heading towards eighth, ninth and then 10th. But this is what this concept offers up, it offers up many different angles."
Twelve of the 14 slots have been filled so far, including early favourite Front Page, Two Big Fari and Intuition, who is partly owned by Canberra Raiders captain Jarrod Croker.
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After guiding Man Of Peace to four wins in four starts, apprentice jockey Louise Day will maintain the ride and trial the eight-year-old at Randwick in two weeks.
That will be the last start for Man Of Peace before The Kosciuszko is run on Everest Day.
"He's rock-solid fit and had a long, deep preparation. We'll keep him nice and sharp," Dale said.
"Louise will come down and trial him in two weeks' time but apart from that, that's all she'll do. She's based up north and we do all his track work, anyway. She has a great affiliation with him."
Man Of Peace has had an astounding late-career surge under Dale, who took over his training from Dave Heywood two years ago.
In that time he's placed in all but one race at Randwick, claiming five wins from nine starts.
"As the old saying goes 'horses for courses'. He's got a great affiliation with Randwick so that can only be positive," Dale said.
"That's his favourite track so we're rapt to have the event there."
The Keith Dryden-trained Handle The Truth will be given another trial this week before resuming two weeks before The Kosciuszko.
Meanwhile, Molly Nails finished second for Dale's stable in a maiden plate (1000 metres) at the Dubbo Country Showcase on Sunday.