Gun Tasmanian galloper The Cleaner has work to do early in Saturday’s 2015 Cox Plate if he is to get the front run in the weight-for-age Moonee Valley feature according to his Longford-based trainer Mick Burles who is living the dream with his stable star.
To date Savoire Vivre gelding has won 19 of his 52 starts amassing over $1.2 million in prize money, his latest victory being a successful title defence in the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on September 5.
Following his second triumph in the Dato’, The Cleaner raced in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield and was far from disgraced when only just beaten home by fellow eight-year-old Mourinho by a neck.
Both the Peter Gelagtotis-trained Mourinho and The Cleaner now back-up in the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) on Saturday looking to become the first eight-year-old to win the classic since Super Impose (1992).
Also out to break the hoodoo for that age group are Paul Beshara’s triple Group 1 winner Happy Trails who has contested the past three editions of the Cox Plate including a second in 2013 to Shamus Award and the Robert Hickmott-trained Fawkner who was runner-up behind Irish raider 12 months ago.
Cox Plate betting at Ladbrokes.com.au, who will have Best Tote or SP + 20% markets open on all Cox Plate Day races this Saturday, is led by another Aidan O’Brien-trained, Ryan Moore-ridden Irish galloper Highland Reel ($5).
The Cleaner meanwhile pays $21 to score an upset Cox Plate result, a price similar to that of recent winners Shamus Award (20/1 in 2013) and Pinker Pinker (25/1 in 2011).
The shortest priced of the eight-year-olds in the mix is $15 offered for Fawkner to become the first Cox Plate winner in history to jump from the outside barrier 14 draw.
The rails-run in the Cox Plate field this year belongs to $7 third pick Winx coming off a Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) win at Randwick.
Four-year-old Street Cry mare Winx is one of three in the line-up for Sydney’s premier trainer Chris Waller.
Chasing his maiden Cox Plate win, Waller also saddles-up Kermadec ($7.50) in barrier 10 with three-time Cox Plate winning hoop Glen Boss aboard and his last-start Group 1 Turnbull Stakes winning four-year-old Preferment ($13) in barrier nine.
Drawn one outside of Winx in barrier two is then Burles’s track specialist The Cleaner who boasts five wins, a second and a third from eight previous runs at Moonee Valley.
Barrier two hasn’t produced a Cox Plate winner since Might And Power saluted as the favourite in 1998 with Jim Cassidy aboard, and Burles believes his horse and jockey Noel Callow won’t have an easy time crossing to lead the field around this year.
“I think that’s more Noel – Noel’s trying to conserve a bit for the finish, and it’s been working so I’m not going to argue with him,” Burles explained to Racing Ahead when talking about the more off-pace style The Cleaner has been racing in this campaign.
“I reckon he’ll get a bit of pressure on him on Saturday – Arod and [Highland Reel], they’ll be just outside him, they’ll put a bit of pressure on him. Mourinho will probably come across … Fawkner – I don’t know.”
That said, Burles believes he has the horse fitter than last year when he ran ninth to Adelaide in the Cox Plate from barrier 14 of 14.
“Well I reckon he’s about 3-4 lengths better off, stronger, bigger,” Burles said.
“He sat four-wide for about 800m last year. No fault of the jockey, he drew 14.
“They weren’t going to let him lead those three-year-olds.
“Barrier two sounds a lot better to me.”
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