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A gear change and faith in a fading glimpse of form accompanies the imported galloper Bit Of Hell into a race in which he needs to prove himself at Caulfield on Saturday.

Trainer Mick Price admits he is becoming perplexed at Bit Of Hell’s disappointing efforts in his two spring runs, but he hasn’t given up on the former Italian galloper.

Bit Of Hell had won six of his 13 starts in Italy and then showed promise in trials before making his Australian debut with a close second to Strawberry Boy over 1600m at Caulfield in May.

Price sent the son of Hurricane Run for a spell he may have enjoyed too much.

Since his return to racing Bit Of Hell hasn’t shown the same desire as in his first local campaign, resuming with a last of seven when favourite behind stablemate and fellow import Pakal.

In his only run since he finished 13th of 14 behind Foreteller in the Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington.

“He was being eye-balled all the way by December Draw at Flemington, it was ugly to watch,” Price said.

The trainer didn’t get a lot more satisfaction when he watched Bit Of Hell gallop at Caulfield on Tuesday morning in preparation for Saturday’s Group Three Naturalism Stakes (2000m).

“Glen Boss rode him in his work and he couldn’t get him going,” he said.

In a bid to persuade Bit Of Hell to race more tractably Price has applied ear muffs and a cross-over noseband and has given Dwayne Dunn the job of encouraging him to be a racehorse.

“Hopefully he’ll get a better run and relax a bit,” he said.

Stablemate Pakal also saddles up in the Naturalism with Craig Newitt up.

Price has a strong hand earlier in the program with the three-year-olds Resistant, Lannister and Le Mans in the Inglis Bonus Handicap.

Resistant shapes as the pick of the trio with Price suggesting his placing in Listed company over 1600m at Flemington as a two-year-old will translate into winning form over 1700m now that he’s a year older.

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