Speed machine Nature Strip all but cemented his spot in the $13 million Everest when he scorched over the Moonee Valley 1000 metres in record time to make it four wins on the spin in the group 2 McEwen Stakes on Saturday.
The Darren Weir-trained powerhouse is expected to be announced as a definite runner early next week in the slot controlled by the Australian Turf Club, bringing to an end months of negotiations and discussions as to whether he would get a place in Australia's richest race.
Weir has said several times in recent weeks that Nature Strip, a four year old gelded son of Nicconi, is the fastest horse he has ever had anything to do with.
And he is now officially the fastest horse to have ever run over the 1000 metre scamper at the tight Valley circuit.
The 56.95 seconds he and jockey Mark Zahra took to complete the race and see off the late challenge of the Queensland mare Houtzen was more than 0.2 seconds quicker than the previous course record set by Sweet Emily, a Moonee Valley specialist, who posted her time nearly four years ago.
Weir says that Nature Strip will now be aimed at the group 1 Moir Stakes over the same course and distance on grand final eve en route to chasing Randwick's riches.
The speedster was drawn in barrier one on Saturday and that was the only real concern the stable had, lest he jumped slowly and got trapped on the rail behind horses.
So Zahra bounced him out of the gates and hurried him on the fence to lead in a bid to take luck and every other potential misfortune out of the occasion.
The horse did the rest, and although he started to tread water towards the end when Houtzen and Ryan Maloney began to close, he had enough in hand to win by half a head and justify the faith of punters who backed him in to $1.50 favouritism.
''From our point of view I guess the speed they went, he was going to be found wanting just a smidgen late. He was going to need it (the race), and he would have needed it going at that speed. That will bring him on great,'' said the champion trainer.
''The second horse is a great horse, it's no slouch, it was charging late. The time backs it up. There will be people querying the 1200 (of The Everest) but with that under his belt and another good solid run in the Moir, I think we will be right.''
Weir is confident that Nature Strip will stay the 1200 metres of The Everest. He has won over the distance - albeit in lesser company - but his record over the minimum distance is so impressive that there are still some doubters.
Weir acknowledges that is the case, but says that appropriate tactics will be adopted over the longer trip.
''He will be ridden differently to that. Today was about the barrier, normally we wouldn't rev horses out of the barrier like that. But if he didn't use his barrier and go hard and got in behind then it becomes messy, so we wanted to make it simple, use the barrier and try and lead. And the time that they have run, they were going at a strong gallop.
''All you can do is win I guess, and he's got that done.
''He's the fastest horse I have trained, and to break the record that backs it up. Unbelievable horse over half a mile, he's very quick and obviously over 1000m. It's exciting and hopefully we can get into the Everest, but I am more focussed on the group 1 next start.''
Zahra said: ''We had to ride him from the barrier. I got into a bit of a race with Sunday Escape early and he's such a competitive horse I was flying down the back and finally when I got to the 500, that's when he started to prick his ears, and at the 400 he was starting to come back,but it was time to go again.
''If I had drawn an outside gate and come out in neutral and he lobs across outside Sunday Escape and is really good late he probably looks more impressive. But he can't do more, he's broken the track record.''
With Chris Roots
Michael Lynch, The Age's expert on soccer, has had extensive experience of high level journalism in the UK and Australia. Michael has covered the Socceroos through Asia, Europe and South America in their past three World Cup campaigns. He has also reported on Grands Prix and top class motor sport from Asia and Europe. He has won several national media awards for both sports and industry journalism.