John Sargent is out to have the last laugh this spring in Saturday's $1m The Illawarra Mercury Gong.
The form lines are heavily overlapped for the feature mile race at Kembla Grange, as Palmetto was swallowed up running seventh in the Five Diamonds (1800m), won by Unspoken with a fast-finishing Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained Detonator Jack third.
Palmetto and Detonator Jack will meet again in The Gong, having also fought out a nail-biting finish with Waterford in the Five Diamonds Prelude two starts back over 1500m, where Sargent's five-year-old gelding got the bob when it counted.
The rematches hardly end there, with Palmetto finishing 1.3 lengths sixth behind Saturday's top weight Cepheus in the Alan Brown over 1400m at Rosehill and also holding off Spangler for second behind Democracy Manifest in the Group 3 Cameron Stakes at Newcastle in September.
Throw in a seventh in the Group 2 Tramway (1400m) behind Chris Waller's runner-up Skyman, who is also in The Gong field and it's enough to make the average punter's head spin.
But Sargent takes confidence into the Kembla Grange feature, especially if there's rain around.
"The mile is his go," he said.
"He sort of lost it at the turn a bit and got going again late, he was flat-footed and was just warming up again past the post.
"I think a hard run mile on Saturday will suit better and any rain around will help turn the tables.
"He'll be every chance, but it's a very even field, so it'll come down to who can get that right run on a big track."
Before coming out to Australia, Palmetto won three races from four starts on Heavy going.
Sargent is adamant we're yet to see the best of Palmetto.
"He's a slow maturing horse," he said.
"He's only just hitting his straps, so we'll come back in the autumn and look at the big weight-for-age races now his rating is so high."
Leading trainer Maher believes the timing is right for Detonator Jack to strike after the recent near-misses this preparation.
"He's in great order, he was super in the Five Diamonds and we're pretty keen for this race," Maher said.
"We're drawn pretty well.
"He might go again after this race, he's had a very consistent prep."
Detonator Jack is listed a $6.50 chance with TAB, while Palmetto is at $23.
Among the other top chances, Cepheus opened at $6.50, while Waterford is at $7, Spangler at $12 and Waller's New Mandate at $17.
Nine-year-old Cuban Royale carries the local Illawarra hopes as a $51 chance.
Cepheus will lump 61 kilograms in The Gong, but then he was strong with 62kg on his back when running second to Attractable in the Big Dance on Melbourne Cup day, having previously taken out the Alan Brown and Group 2 Shannon Stakes.
Having won the inaugural The Gong with Mister Sea Wolf, Chris Waller brings a party of five to attack this year's race, with Osipenko opening a $4 favourite.
Osipenko was scratched from the Golden Eagle when found to be lame, after finishing midfield in the Turnbull Stakes.
"We ran him over 2000m, we don't think he really stayed so we came back in distance and then he was obviously scratched out of the Golden Eagle,'' Waller's assistant trainer Charlie Duckworth told Racing NSW this week. "Perth was too much of a stretch going there with a horse on a setback so therefore we've decided to stay home and stick to New South Wales."