Steparty will be defending an unbeaten record in next month's Caulfield Guineas after the colt scored a tenacious win in the main Victorian lead-up to next month's $3 million Group 1.
The Paul Preusker-trained three-year-old added a fifth picket to the fence he has been building since winning a Ballarat maiden in May when he prevailed in a four-way finish to the $300,000 Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m).
The son of Flying Artie, who started $2.60 favourite, got home by a short-head from Southport Tycoon ($9), who was a nose clear of Scentify ($10) with Scheelite ($13) close up fourth.
Although the winning margin was only narrow, Preusker said the performance merely emphasised his belief in Steparty.
"He's got a boom turn of foot. I've seen it over the years, (but) for me at my farm, I haven't seen a horse with a 400 (metres) on him like this fella.
"It was good to see it used today, a bit of pressure and he stood up.
"The harder it's run, the more brutal the race, the more he stands up and puts his hand up."
Steparty, who had won his previous four starts settling in a prominent position, demonstrated another string to his bow when he came from the second half of the field to score.
Victory appeared unlikely even at the 150m when Steparty was under hard riding, which only added to the win according to jockey John Allen.
"I think there is definitely a bit more (to come)," Allen said.
"The run didn't pan out as well as we would have liked today, but he was still good enough to get over the top of them. I still think there's a bit more up his sleeve, hopefully."
Connections now have a decision to make regarding who rides Steparty in the Guineas, which will be run at Caulfield on October 14, with Allen having been aboard for the two most recent wins and Dean Yendall, who was aboard for his first three wins, set to resume from injury.
Steparty and John Allan, picture Racing Photos