This Wednesday night at Launceston Racecourse two of Tasmania’s top gallopers will face off in their latest clash with four-year-old Admiral taking on Mick Burles’ cult horse The Cleaner in the 2015 Conquering Stakes.
Running as the fifth race of the evening, the $100,000 Listed Launceston Mitsubishi Conquering WFA (1400m) features just eight hopefuls including the Barry Campbell-trained Admiral.
Set to get the rails run from barrier one with Brendon McCoull retaining the ride, the Spreyton-based Mossman gelding has his eight start at the track.
To date he has won five from seven at Launceston, his latest victory at the course being back in late February’s Listed George Adams Stakes (1600m) over a mile.
In that race carrying 55kg from the inside alley he beat home dual Group 2 winner in Melbourne The Cleaner, who carried 59kg to second beaten one and a quarter lengths by the younger horse.
The George Adams victory followed an outstanding Tasmanian Summer Racing Carnival campaign for then three-year-old Admiral who also won January’s Listed Tasmanian Guineas (1600m) at Hobart by three lengths.
He travelled interstate up to Melbourne in March and was stepped up in class for the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington when crossing under three lengths away fifth behind the Gai Waterhouse-trained winner Wandjina.
Sent for a break immediately after he didn’t return until November 18 at Launceston in the Listed Newmarket Handicap (1200m) where he ran fifth, one and three-quarter lengths off the winner Hellova Street.
He carries 59kg again at weight-for-age second-up on Wednesday looking to retain his undefeated second-up record, Admiral having won all three of his previous starts two runs in.
Campbell is happy with his horse’s fitness, but is still wary of The Cleaner.
“He’s probably improved since the Newmarket, which you’d expect him to,” Campbell told Racing Ahead.
“He’s had a three-week break. He was probably always going to want a run in the Newmarket.
“We met him [The Cleaner] at his top, and he [Admiral] was on the way up … it’ll be a different race on Wednesday night.
“I think that was our second-last run for our prep, and his first run.”
Admiral is second favourite in the current Conquering Stakes betting markets following only the odds-on top fancy The Cleaner.
Jumping from barrier three with Noel Callow in the saddle once again, Burles’ eight-year-old Savoire Vivre gelding runs for the first time since his seventh to Winx in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 24.
That track produced the galloper’s two Group 2 wins when going back-to-back in the Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes in 2014 and 2015.
After his second Dato win this spring, The Cleaner also caught the eye in a blanket finish when beaten a mere neck by Mourinho in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield.
Boasting a solid Launceston record of five wins, four seconds and a third from 14 starts, The Cleaner is racing at the track for the first time since his George Adams second when unsuccessfully defending his title having won the 2014 edition by two lengths.
The well-travelled horse, who also ran third in last year’s Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) during the 2014 Melbourne Cup Carnival, is yet to win over 1400m with two seconds from three runs over the distance he is over on Wednesday night.
Burles is confident he can turn the tables on Admiral however with the WFA conditions seeing the two meet equal in the weights this time round.
“If he’s right, he should take a bit of beating,” Burles said.
“There’s a good horse in there, Admiral. He beat him last year, but my bloke wasn’t right last year, but he’s right this year I can tell you.
“They’ve got to carry the same weight. Last year they were three-year-olds, this year they’re four-year-olds, it’s a bit different.”
The only other horse rated any kind of chance by the bookies in the Conquering Stakes this summer is Streetwise Savoire in barrier four for Seven Mile Beach horseman Scott Brunton.
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