This Saturday marks the return of cult favourite The Cleaner to Melbourne racing as the seven-year-old gelding tackles the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington.
The Cleaner had the best campaign of his career during the spring, finishing in the first two in his first six starts and winning back-to-back black-type races with the Group 3 JRA Cup (2040m) and Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m).
He stepped up to Group One racing for the first time as well, finishing three and a half lengths off Adelaide in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) and scoring a minor placing in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m).
The gelding’s trainer Mick Burles believes he is set to have an even better campaign this autumn, which will kick off on Saturday.
“I think he’s bigger and strong and better than he’s ever been,” Burles declared to TVN.
The Cleaner enjoyed a piece of work in his home state of Tasmania on February 25, running in the Listed George Adams Plate (1600m). He went to the front as usual and ran along at a good tempo but was under riding approaching the home turn. He held the lead right until the 100m but found Admiral too good, finishing second to the three-year-old gelding.
Despite losing the race, Burles was happy with the race, saying The Cleaner ran his final 600 metres in 33 seconds and his last 400 metres in 21.6 seconds. He now believes he’s in perfect shape as he arrives in Melbourne on Friday morning.
“He pulled up beautiful mate, he’s improved out of sight, he needed that run real bad but I’m real happy with him,” the trainer said.
“I’ve done a fair bit of work with him, he’s taken it all in his stride and he’s pretty happy.
“Everything is really good — it couldn’t be better.”
The Cleaner is one of 16 horses confirmed to run in the 2015 Australian Cup. He will jump midfield from barrier nine with Steven Arnold to ride.
“There’s some bloody good horses in this race, but I think he’ll be right in the finish. There’s some who’ll find this trip too short and some who’ll find it too long,” Burles said.
“He only got beaten three lengths in a Cox Plate and I think he would have finished in the first three if he’d drawn a barrier.”
Open your Ladbrokes.com.au online betting account today to get ready for the Australian Cup betting market. New customers will receive up to $250 in a bonus match on their first bet.