Rapidly-improving three-year-old Royal Haunt continued to prove trainer Peter Moody wrong with a dominant victory in Saturday's Manfred Stakes at Caulfield.
In claiming the Listed race, the three-year-old also put himself in the frame for a shot at the Group One Australian Guineas.
A dominant on-pace performance in the Manfred Stakes (1200m) made it three straight victories for the gelding who started his career with wins at Echuca and Sale.
Melbourne's premier trainer admitted he thought Royal Haunt might struggle to reach any great heights just a couple of months ago, but he has been pleasantly surprised by his improvement.
Royal Haunt's 4-1/4-length Manfred Stakes win led to his price for next month's Australian Guineas (1600m) being trimmed significantly to $13.
He is now on the fifth line of betting with All Too Hard a clear-cut favourite.
"He continues to surprise me," Moody said.
"He came to us with a bit of a boom on him unraced and I said to (owner) David (Moodie) and the team a while back that he was only just making it into a horse.
"But he's just continued to develop."
Moody said next month's Australian Guineas was a possibility.
"He's in the Guineas but that's still a way off," Moody said.
"He's had three runs this preparation so we'll just see where he's at."
Royal Haunt, well supported on track firming from $4.80 into $3.90, dictated terms from the front
Favourite Albrecht ($2.40) and the fancied Hosting ($3.60) were both in trouble turning for home when Royal Haunt kicked strongly, extending his margin over the field.
Force Command ($31) closed nicely for second with Hosting third, another half length away.
Albrecht struggled into sixth in a performance that had jockey Kerrin McEvoy lost for answers.
"The winner sprinted home quick off the front but my fella was beaten from the 400 metre mark and raced well below what we expected," McEvoy said.
"So we'll just see how he comes out of it and how he pulls up."
Dwayne Dunn believes the Greg Eurell-trained Force Command is in for a good autumn when he steps up in distance, while Craig Williams says Hosting did well to battle on after being under pressure before the turn.