Longford-based Tasmanian trainer Mick Burles believes his galloper The Cleaner has what it takes to set a new weight carrying record in the 2014 Winter Championship Series Final at Flemington on Saturday.
The rising seven-year-old has been allocated 60kg as the top weight in the $150,000 Listed VRC/CRV Winter Championship Series Final (1600m) that is set to run as Flemington Race 6 at 3:35pm.
Drawn wide as well in barrier 16, which could become 12 if the four emergencies fail to gain a run, there’s certainly a lot against the in-form son of Savoire Vivre.
Winner of the Listed George Adams Plate over the Launceston mile back in February, The Cleaner has had two lead-up runs in Melbourne ahead of the lucrative final.
First-up at the track they ran a long neck away second behind Limes in the opening heat of the series, and then were stepped up in distance to beat home Sadaqa by a big three lengths over the Moonee Valley vile on June 21.
They go up two kilograms from their winning weight three weeks ago, their 60kg allocation giving them a chance to set a new weight carrying record in the feature.
The heaviest weight carried by a Winter Championship Series Final winner was 59kg which Glaneuse carted for their back-to-back victories in 2012.
The Cleaner had a five-run stint in Victoria last winter with Robert Smerdon that included a run in the Winter Championship Final 12 months ago.
It was a failed effort however as they ran second last (11th) and couldn’t come within 12 lengths of the winner Magnifique Soleil.
Burles though isn’t perturbed knowing how much the horse has come on since then.
“He’s a lot better horse than he was last year,” he told Racing Victoria speaking from Tasmania on Wednesday.
“He’s a lot stronger horse now.
“I know it’s a lot harder race than the one he won at Moonee Valley, but there’d want to be a good one to beat him.”
He also isn’t fazed by the class of rivals The Cleaner faces on the weekend with some of their most notable challengers including heat winners Akavoroun (Heat 6), Tried And Tired (Heat 3), Lord Durante (Heat 8) and Fast And Free (Heat 7).
While far from blaming Smerdon for the horse’s poor form in the race last year, he believes coming back to Tasmania to train has bought the best out of them once more.
“He doesn’t like it over there [in Caulfield],” Burles said. “He’s not a box horse.
“He’s out in the paddock all the time here at home and the only time he’ll ever be in his box inside in winter is at night.
“He’s definitely a hometown boy.”
The Cleaner makes the trip by boat from Tasmania on Thursday night before a one night stay at Pine Lodge near Tullamarine and then will be heading back home Saturday afternoon.
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