Battling Tassie trainer Mick Burles this week confirmed plans to back-up his cult galloper The Cleaner in the Melbourne Cup Carnival’s 2015 Emirates Stakes if he doesn’t win the Cox Plate on the weekend.
In flying form this time in and heading to Moonee Valley where he boasts an excellent five from eight record, Savoire Vivre eight-year-old The Cleaner is one of a 14-starter capacity field for the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m).
No eight-year-old has won the weight-for-age classic since Super Impose (1992), but the Longford-based Burles is hoping his track specialist can break the hoodoo and give him the big win he has been chasing his whole career.
“It would mean the world to anybody, coming from where we’ve come,” he told AAP on Friday.
“I’m only a battler. I have been all my life. To win something like that would be just the retirement ticket I reckon.”
To date The Cleaner, famous for his entertaining front-running style, has won 19 of his 52 career starts for just under $1.23 million in prize money, including back-to-back victories in the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at the Valley.
Last Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival the horse backed up from that to win the Group 3 JRA Cup (2040m) over the Cox Plate track and distance before a ninth behind Irish raider Adelaide in the Group 1 when beaten 3.35 lengths.
He had a nasty run from the outside barrier 14 of 14 in last year’s Cox Plate, a gate that has never produced a Cox Plate winner, and Burles is hoping for better luck from barrier 2 this weekend.
“I wasn’t very happy last year but I think this year he’s got the barrier draw and everything in his favour. I haven’t got many excuses this year,” Burles said.
“I think he’s probably two (to) three lengths a better horse than he was last year.
“If he’s in front they’ve got to catch him and he won’t be sitting four-wide for 800 metres.”
Barrier two at the tight circuit also isn’t ideal however, the last champ to win from that alley being Might And Power in 1998.
In the current Cox Plate odds at Ladbrokes.com.au, home to Best Tote or SP + 20% on the entire Cox Plate Day card, The Cleaner pays $21 looking to become the longest priced winner since Shamus Award saluted at 20/1 two years ago breaking his maiden status.
Markets are now led by Chris Waller’s Epsom Handicap winning mare Winx ($5) who is the early market mover taking over from the classy Irish raider Highland Reel ($6) looking for successive wins for trainer Aidan O’Brien and jockey Ryan Moore.
Burles knows the depth of this year’s Cox Plate is imposing, but believes his $10,000 horse can hold his own in a field full of local and international champions – Highland Reel joined by fellow visitors Arod and Gailo Chop.
“They’re world-class horses but who’s to say this fellow’s not either,” he said.
“We’ll find out tomorrow.”
If The Cleaner doesn’t stack up in the Cox Plate, Burles will take him to Flemington Racecourse on November 7 dropping the horse back in distance for the $1 million Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m), which he ran a close third to Hucklebuck in last year.
Then it will be a short freshen-up in the paddock before heading up to Queensland in late December for a shot at the lucrative Magic Millions Trophy over 1800m on the 29th at the Gold Coast.
“A million dollars, weight for age – everything’s in his favour. There wouldn’t be many Magic Millions horses about as good as him,” Burles, who also wasn’t ruling out a 2016 Cox Plate bid for the horse, said.
“If he hangs around for another year so will I.”
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