An impressive win at Moonee Valley that continued their nice form this preparation has seen the Mick Burles-trained Tassie galloper The Cleaner enter Cox Plate 2014 calculations ahead of the spring.
The Savoire Vivre seven-year-old is defying their years and racing in career best form this year with Saturday’s Melbourne victory their third in their past five starts.
Winner of the Listed George Adams Plate (1600m) back home at Launceston in February this winter they’ve had four Victorian runs finishing first or second in each start.
Three back they blitzed their competition with a three length success in the Travis Harrison Cup (1600m) at Valley before a brave second behind Akavoroun in the Listed Winter Championship Series Final (1600m) at Flemington on July 12.
They returned to the Moonee Valley mile then this weekend gone and were impressive carrying 60.5kg to a one and a quarter length victory over the Mick Price-trained Fast And Free ($9) when saluting as the $2.30 favourite through Ladbrokes.com.au in the $80,000 Jeep Don’t Hold Back Handicap (1600m).
In third just a long neck further back adding value to the trifecta was then the Ken Keys-trained First Course ($31) up in distance after a second to Pillar Of Creation over 1400m at Caulfield a month ago.
Ridden by Noel Callow, The Cleaner jumped away well from the inside alley and went straight to the front for their gutsy all-the-way win hanging on despite late challenges from the place-getters.
“I thought he was really gone at the 600 when that other horse took him on but he really digs deep,” the Burles told the media on Saturday.
“I’m quite happy for (the other horses) to take him on because I think they’ll come undone before he does.
“He got pressured by Kenny Keys’ horse (First Course), but that’s why they call it a race.
“If I was interviewed at the 600 I would have said to myself ‘we’re in a bit of trouble here’ but he’s as tough as boots and he stuck it out.”
Their excellent form, especially at Moonee Valley where they are building an imposing record (4-2-1-1), has The Cleaner’s Longford-based trainer considering a $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) bid.
Nominations for the October 25 classic close on Tuesday and Burles is sure to roll the dice and enter The Cleaner for the handicap clash.
They’ll get another shot at adding to their Moonee Valley record on September 6 and further stake their Cox Plate claims in a race offering a ballot free ride into the Australasian weight-for-age championship with Burles confirming The Cleaner for the $250,000 Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m).
“I can’t wait to get him out to 2000 metres but at the moment I’m just keeping him at a mile for conditioning sake because he loses a bit of condition when you push him out in distance,” Burles said.
“I’ll probably nominate him for the Cox Plate, that’s the only one I am interested in. If he wins the Dato, he’s automatically in it.”
Burles also said Callow would likely stay on for the Dato and beyond then after taking over for Anthony Darmanin.
“He didn’t have to win today to go to the Dato but I wanted him to win just to make sure he was right with Noel on him, a new rider and all that stuff,” he said.
“It looks like he handled the horse quite good.”
Futures Cox Plate betting is already open at Ladbrokes.com.au but The Cleaner is yet to be added to the markets.
To see who is in and what price you can lock them in at before Tuesday’s Caulfield Cup nominations head to Ladbrokes where the Ladbrokes Card offer also gives you access to your account 24/7 in cash!