Worthily claims victory with an eye on the Australian Cup

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Hopes of an berth are alive and well for and , as English import breaks through at his second Australian start.

The five-year-old gelding caught the eye in his first Australian start at on January 15 over an unsuitable 1400m journey when eighth.

Having stepped out to 1800m on Saturday in a Benchmark 70 Handicap at , the son of Point Of Entry was well-supported, starting a $1.80 favourite.

Ridden by , Worthily appeared to be bolting before the turn, however -winning had to bide his time and wait for the gap to appear.

Once the run came in the straight, the eventual winner took a bit longer than expected to hit his straps, but he did enough to defeat the fast-finishing Hasseltoff.

“I felt after being in traffic and at Caulfield for the first time under race pressure, he was awkward around the bend and on a firm deck as well, he wasn't able to pick up as well as he did in his debut run at Flemington,” McNeil told Racing.com.

“I think there was good merit in the run, and he can go forward from here.”

Connections of the horse nominated him for the Australian Cup (2000m) during the week, so to get his maiden in Australia out of the way and boost his rating was a big relief for co-trained David Eustace.

“He probably travelled like a horse that was going to really quicken, but he just really stayed well to the line,” Eustace said.

“It was a beautiful ride, and great for Australian Bloodstock.”

While he will need to go to another level again if he is to contest Group 1 racing in Australia this autumn, Eustace believes the horse has the right rating to be able to be taken through the grades and continue to win races.

“We think he has got a nice rating,” the co-trainer said.

“With cut in the ground, and a bit further as well, he should be able to go through his grades.”

Worthily is currently a $26 chance in the Australian Cup, which will be run on March 12 at Flemington.

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