The race for a coveted Caulfield Cup berth is on in earnest in Saturday's Naturalism Stakes and trainer Mick Price is hoping it is one of his European imports who gets the prize.
Price will start Pakal and Bit Of Hell in the Naturalism (2000m) at Caulfield, with the winner exempt from ballot for the Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 19.
Pakal goes into the race off a last-start third to Ibicenco in the Heatherlie Hcp (1700m), a race where he worked hard from an outside draw and chased a hot speed.
Craig Newitt retains the ride on Pakal, an impressive first-up winner by six lengths at Caulfield before his Heatherlie Hcp placing.
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"He just needs to draw a gate, Craig needs to ride a nice race and hopefully he can win and get a berth into the Caulfield Cup," Price said.
The Naturalism is one of two planned chances to secure Caulfield Cup qualification alongside the Turnbull Stakes (2000m) two weeks later.
Price said Pakal was a happy horse heading into the Naturalism. "He's excellent and I thought his run in the Heatherlie was good. He had barrier 14 of 16 and had to work, work, work. The first 1200m was very hard for him but he still hung on and ran third."
Bit Of Hell is yet to fire in his two starts this campaign.
The entire missed the Heatherlie Hcp and instead contested the group one Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) a week later where he took up the running from the outside gate and weakened in the straight to beat one runner home. AAP