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Since running ninth in the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) during the Perth Summer Racing Carnival, cult favourite The Cleaner has been enjoying a much-deserved spell in his stables in Tasmania.
The seven-year-old gelding returned to training on Tuesday morning in a pleasing barrier trial at his home track of Longford, where he finished second to Huss Style in a breezy 700-metre trial.
Trainer Mick Burles was happy with the performance, considering Huss Style is a local sprinter that has won three times at distances between 1200 metres and 1350 metres. The Cleaner meanwhile is generally kept over the mile.
“I didn’t really expect all that much of him,” Burles told Racing Victoria.
“It was only 700 metres and they were nearly all sprinters in it, so he did well.
“He pulled up well, he didn’t blow much and we’ve still got a fortnight to go until his first race. He’s on target.”
He is being prepared for a first-up run in the Listed George Adams Plate (1600m) at Launceston on February 25 before travelling to Melbourne for the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 14.
The Cleaner had the most successful campaign of his career during the late autumn/spring last year, finishing in the first two in six of his eight starts and winning his first Group level race. It was a regular success story and one that garnered the gelding a legion of new fans.
After a string of wins in the late autumn, The Cleaner won both the Group 2 Dato Chan Nam Stakes (1600m) and Group 3 JRA Cup (2040m), which earned him a spot in the field for the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m). Despite boxing on well into the straight, the gelding was simply outclassed and finished ninth to Adelaide.
However The Cleaner fought on in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) two weeks later, earning himself a minor placing.
Despite dominating during his spring campaign in Melbourne, The Cleaner will make just a cameo appearance during the spring. After running in the 2015 Australian Cup, he will travel to Sydney to tackle The Championships series in April.
The Cleaner is nominated for both the $3 million Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) and $4 million Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) across the two week meeting and Burles is undoubtedly keen to earn a share of the lucrative prize money on offer.
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