Awesome Rock has earned himself a shot at the Cox Plate with an impressive win in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes at Moonee Valley.
As the winner of Saturday's Group Two race, Awesome Rock gains an automatic start in next month's weight-for-age championship.
Ridden by Stephen Baster, Awesome Rock ($31) scored a two length win from Real Love ($41) with Set Square ($20) three-quarters-of-a-length away third.
Troy Corstens says Saturday's victory will force a rethink of plans.
"We've had him in the Cox Plate all the way through but he needed to do something like that for us to take the next step and have a real crack at it," Corstens said.
"The goalposts have changed a little. We were thinking of the Mackinnon (Emirates) Stakes but we'll probably shift it back and have a crack at the Cox Plate now.
"We've got a golden ticket now."
Corstens said Awesome Rock has continued to show improvement with each preparation, adding that he was first past the post in the Australian Cup before losing the race on protest.
"He's been so immature," Corstens said.
"He's gone from being a boy to becoming a man.
"Now that he's done something like that he can now show what he's got."
Awesome Rock provided Baster with one of his greatest moments when first past the post in the Australian Cup.
Twenty minutes later came his greatest heartache.
But Baster said the galloper had now taken another step after having concerns following his gallop with stablemate Mr Individual at Moonee Valley on Tuesday.
He said Awesome Rock's first-up run, when 10th in the PB Lawrence Stakes on August 13, may have taken more out of him than first thought.
Baster noted Awesome Rock travelled strongly throughout the race after the Corstens team didn't do a lot of work with him following Tuesday's gallop.
"There wasn't a lot of room there and he toed me into it, but that's what good horses can do," Baster said.
"I'm really excited by him going forward."
Luke Nolen, rider of third placed Set Square, said the mare was progressing nicely.
Fourth-placed Tosen Stardom's rider John Allen said the Japanese galloper ran a promising race.
"He just had no luck, he just got boxed in," Allen said.
"From the 600 (metres) he was struggling to get a run but he hit the line super."
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