Caulfield-based trainer Mick Price is gearing up for a big spring this season eyeing off the 2013 Underwood Stakes prize with two of his imports a Bit Of Hell and Pakal.
Run on September 21 at Caulfield Racecourse the $400,000 Group 1 Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes (1800m) is one of the early weight-for-age classics held during the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, and Price is keen to take out the trophy at his home track.
While it’s an ambitious aim, he’s setting both Hurricane Run five-year-old Bit Of Hell and Lord Of England gelding Pakal on the Underwood path despite both gallopers having had just the one run down under so far.
Former Italian galloper Bit Of Hell, a versatile stallion known for their wet track abilities, debuted for Price at Caulfield on May 25.
Having won dual stakes races in Italy during our spring last year including their last international start over 2300m on December 8, the untapped stayer did well down under finishing just a nose away second to the Peter Moody-trained Strawberry Boy in The Chase Hotel Handicap (1600m).
Price is tipping them to improve as they get up in distance and believes he’ll be able to gauge their full potential in the Underwood.
Fellow five-year-old Pakal meanwhile was previously prepared in Germany.
They twice raced at elite level in Europe including their second to French Fifteen in the Group 1 Criterium International (1600m) back in October of 2011.
They also debuted down under in the same race as Bit Of Hell crossing one and a half lengths off the winner in fifth.
Of the two Pakal could be the biggest threat in the Underwood Stakes for Price based on their experience at the top overseas.
They are also a Group 3 winner over 2011m at Munich last May in the Bavarian Classic 2012.
Price plans to give the duo a gallop at Sportingbet Park next Monday before they race first-up for the season in the over the Caulfield mile on August 17.
“They’ll go into the mile race underdone after missing a trial but they’ll both be happy and healthy,” Price told Racing Victoria.
“They may both then go to the Listed Heatherlie Handicap (1700m) for their second up run at Caulfield on August 31 and then they’ll probably run in the Underwood.
“I’m pretty sure that’ll be their first three runs and then we will work things out from there.”
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