Trainer Leon Corstens is convinced Awesome Rock has improved from his first-up run as he prepares to take on a quality field in the Group Two Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes.
Saturday's weight-for-age race at Moonee Valley has attracted 16 nominations including five Group One winners while popular gelding The Cleaner is entered for his shot at winning the race for the third-straight year.
The Cleaner, now in the care of Moe trainer Peter Gelagotis, led all the way to win the past two editions when trained in Tasmania by Mick Burles.
Awesome Rock was beaten 3-1/2 lengths by Miss Rose De Lago when 10th in the P B Lawrence Stakes and is one of three Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes entrants scheduled to gallop at Moonee Valley on Tuesday in preparation for Saturday's race.
Awesome Rock, who lost the Australian Cup on protest, was entered for last Saturday's Memsie Stakes but connections decided to wait for Moonee Valley.
"I think he's looking for the mile," Corstens, who trains in partnership with his son Troy, said.
Corstens was pleased with Awesome Rock's P B Lawrence run and said he ran into trouble in parts of the race which he believed cost him a closer finish.
"I think he looks very well in himself. I think the horse has improved and I expect him to run a big race in the Dato," Corstens said.
But he said if it happened to be a wet track they could wait for the Makybe Diva Stakes.
The TAB has the Darren Weir-trained Mahuta as the $5.50 favourite in its all-in market ahead of stablemate Tosen Stardom at $6.
Jameka, The United States and Miss Rose De Lago are at $6.50.
The winner earns a ballot exemption into the Cox Plate.
The Ciaron Maher-trained Jameka and Set Square are two of the Group One winners entered along with the Nigel Blackiston-trained Suavito and Robert Hickmott-trained The United States.
Australian Derby winner Tavago is also nominated but is likely to be saved for the Makybe Diva Stakes the following Saturday.
The Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes is named in honour of the Malaysian businessman and prominent racehorse owner whose success in Australian racing includes four Melbourne Cups with horses trained by the late Bart Cummings.
G2 - Prix Maurice De Folleville
G2 - Prix Philippe Du Rozier
G2 - Breeders' Cup
G3 - Colonial Chief Stakes
G1 - Japan Autumn Internationa - Lchampions Cup