The Cleaner is set to take up the running of the 2015 Cox Plate field, but trainer Mick Burles expects there to be plenty of pressure in the early stages of the race.
The Cleaner had no luck in running in the Cox Plate 12 months ago and he was caught wide early after drawing the outside gate, but Burles expects his star galloper to be able to find the lead when he jumps from barrier two in the Group 1 event at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
While Burles expects The Cleaner to be able to find the lead, he admits that the eight-year-old will not have it his own way in front and he believes that Arod and Highland Reel will also challenge for the lead in the early stages of the Cox Plate.
“He sat four wide four about 800 metres last year,” Burles told Racing Ahead.
“It was no fault of the jockey, he drew 14 and those three-year-olds weren’t going to let them in.
“Barrier two sounds a lot better to me.
“Noel has been trying to conserve a little bit for the finish and it has been working, so I am not going to argue with him.
“I think he is going to get a bit of pressure on Saturday because Arod and the other horse from overseas both lead.
“They have drawn just outside him and they will put a bit of pressure on him.”
The Cleaner finished a more than credible ninth in the Cox Plate last year, but he has arguably gone to another level in 2015 and he won the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on September 5 before he was only narrowly denied in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on September 26.
Burles said that The Cleaner had appreciated a change in training techniques during the 2015 Spring Racing Carnival and he is thrilled with the condition of the Savoire Vivre gelding ahead of the 2015 Cox Plate this weekend.
“The Cleaner is ticking over lovely,” Burles said
“I have been working him up around the roads and keeping him happy, he loves it up there.
“Whatever keeps him happy I will do.
“If you keep doing the same thing he will get sick of it and he was going around and round and round, so I thought bugger it I will send him up the roads for a while.
“It has built him right up.
“I reckon he is about three or four lengths better off.
“He is stronger and bigger.”
The Cleaner is currently available at 2015 Cox Plate odds of $21 with Ladbrokes, while Highland Reel ($5) is currently outright favourite from Criterion ($6.50), Winx ($7), Kermadec ($7.50) and Arod ($8.50).