Having proven he can compete at stakes level, emerging three-year-old Loch Eagle will undergo a further test of his credentials when he takes on a smart field in the Hawkesbury Guineas.
After recording consecutive wins at Newcastle and Warwick Farm, Loch Eagle stepped up to black-type company for the first time with an encouraging second to Vilana in the Listed South Pacific Classic (1400m) at Randwick.
That effort convinced trainer Kris Lees to press on to Saturday's Group 3 assignment where Loch Eagle will not only face a rematch with Vilana, but also take on the likes of last-start Doncaster Prelude winner Mr Mozart, proven Group Two performer Coastwatch and the promising Flying Crazy.
"That last run was about whether he was up to this better grade and he has shown that he is with his progressive runs," Lees said.
"He's a smart horse but this is a good test for him. It's a pretty good race on paper."
Hawkesbury was in the soft range on Thursday and Lees was banking on it staying around that mark.
Loch Eagle's two campaign wins were on heavy 8 surfaces, but the trainer felt he didn't relish the extreme heavy 10 conditions at Randwick last start.
He is also conscious the horse has had three consecutive starts on testing ground and has taken measures to negate the fatigue factor by giving him a longer break between runs.
"I'm mindful of that but I'm happy with the three-week gap going into this run," Lees said.
"I'm looking forward to seeing him on that bit better ground hopefully, rather than on that heavy ground he found himself on the other day."
Hawkes Racing's Mr Mozart is a $3 favourite to make it a hat-trick of wins in the Hawkesbury Guineas (1400m) with Loch Eagle regarded as his biggest danger at $5.