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Cult hero The Cleaner has had a very long campaign that started with a runner-up finish at Flemington back in May. Since then the seven-year-old gelding has had an additional eight starts, which included four wins and two placings.
However it all seemed too much for The Cleaner in Perth on Saturday, his grueling campaign finally catching up to him in the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m).
Trainer Mick Burles decided to fly the gelding over to Perth for the 2014 Railway Stakes after finishing third in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) on November 8 despite earlier plans to send him to the spelling yard.
Steven Arnold, who rode The Cleaner for the fifth consecutive time, could tell something was amiss in the mounting yard before the $1 million feature race. The Cleaner was displaying telltale signs that he’d reached the end of his tether.
“He sweated up badly before the race, there were just a few signs that he’d come to the end of it,” Arnold told TVN.
“He got really stirred up before the race, which is unlike him, and he laid out in the run most of the way.
“He just wasn’t quite himself. I was in trouble 600 metres out.
“He still tried, he still tried his heart out, but he’s just come to the end of it.”
The Cleaner assumed his customary front-running position in the 2014 Railway Stakes but was under siege as the track straightened before fading to finish ninth in the race, three lengths behind the winner Elite Belle.
With that, The Cleaner’s long and successful campaign came to an end. He enjoyed three consecutive wins in the Jeep Don’t Hold Back Handicap (1600m), Group 2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m), and Group 3 JRA Cup (2040m) before stepping up to Group One racing for the first time in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m).
He worked hard to get over and find the front from the widest gate before pouring the pressure on with 700 metres to go. He was still boxing on into the straight but was simply outclassed, finishing ninth.
The Listed George Adams Plate (1600m) at The Cleaner’s hometown of Launceston in February remains the gelding’s next target, which will act as a springboard for a shot at the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington during the autumn.
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