Tony Gollan has no hesitation in saying that Nettuno has kept him guessing and despite many threats of 'the cut', the four-year-old announced himself as a Queensland Summer Carnival hot prospect with victory in the Swiss Ace Plate.
Nettuno ($19) was the lesser stable fancy as far as the market was concerned in the $125,000 event over 1000-metres, but the authority of the win has the state's premier trainer keen and ready to see more over the next couple of months.
Racing first-up, Nettuno - a colt by I Am Invincible - won by two-lengths over the Steven O'Dea and Matthew Hoysted-trained Shooting For Gold ($19) and stablemate Ef Troop ($41) in third.
"He's always been a good horse right from day one when he had his first win here," Gollan said.
The path since hasn't been so easy as Gollan admits that the colt has had him perplexed.
"We resisted gelding him but we put him away for a really good break.
"We've done a lot of equestrian work with him, kept one rider on him the whole time and it hasn't been pretty the whole prep.
"We've trialed him, jumped him out with different gear on him and even today he raced in different gear to what we've tried before.
"We tried to trick him but he's tricked us.
Nettuno debuted for a win over the same course and distance in March 2022 and has since notched two more wins and a placing in eight starts since.
So high was the opinion of Nettuno that he contested the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) for three-year-olds during the Melbourne Cup Carnival last year.
"We've won the last four Swiss Ace Plates, or something, and that is the strongest field I have seen and he made them look second-rate.
"I can't wait for the rest of the summer."
Stablemate and second-favourite Zoustyle ($2.90) raced three-wide throughout the race and finished fourth.
Favourite Prince Of Boom ($2.70) weakened to the line with vets finding the Group 2 Moreton Cup (1200m) returned with cardiac arrhythmia and will need to trial before returning to racing.