Having checked out the steering and suspension on his Melbourne Cup ride earlier in the week, Craig Williams took Mount Athos for a more serious test drive yesterday.
And the English stayer passed the examination in dashing style.
"The other day was all about getting a feel for the horse and seeing how he moves," Williams said.
"But this morning it was all about his engine."
And according to Australia's best-travelled jockey, he has a big one.
Mount Athos is third favourite for Tuesday's Melbourne Cup on the strength of his fifth placing in the race last year, along with Williams' presence in the saddle and a form line that was rescued by a glimpse of desire at his latest start.
But the major reason for his prominence in betting has been some work at Werribee that has instilled confidence in all around him.
And yesterday's gallop only caused that faith to grow.
Williams got moving on Mount Athos from the 1600m, building on his work throughout and continuing past the post.
"When I pushed the button he really accelerated," Williams said. "But what I really enjoyed was the feeling he gave me over the last 100 and through the line.
"He maintained his gallop and as his action improved he got a lot lower."
No beaten horse in last year's Cup caught the eye more than Mount Athos, which came from last to be beaten by just over three lengths to Green Moon.
Champion English jockey Ryan Moore rode the horse in 2012, and but Williams is now the preferred option.
"The owner was keen to use a local and we've been doing that for some time with most of our runners," said trainer Luca Cumani.
"I think it's preferable."
After running two mediocre races at home, Mount Athos resurrected his Cup campaign last start with a close second over 2800m at Goodwood that confirmed his return to Melbourne.
Since then he has improved almost daily and Cumani rates him as highly as any horse he has brought to Melbourne over the past seven years, including his 2008 Cup runner-up Bauer.
Another runner to impress on the track yesterday was Brown Panther, which appears to have brought with him the form that won him two races in England this season.
Trainer Tom Dascombe, who yesterday saw his horse for the first time in a couple of weeks, said the effort encouraged and satisfied him.
"He looks great, his weight's good and he's eating everything," Dascombe said.
"We've just trained the horse around his feed bowl - so he's trained well."
Dascombe has gone the opposite way to the Cumani method and retained Brown Panther's regular English rider Richard Kingscote who put the horse through his paces in his final fast work before Tuesday. AAP