The Cleaner’s 2015 Australian Cup hopes appeared in jeopardy when he suffered a first-up defeat in the George Adams Plate, but trainer Mick Burles is confident that his star galloper will be a much fitter horse in the Group 1 event at Flemington on Saturday.
The Cleaner was well-backed in the lead-up to the Listed George Adams Plate (1600m) at Launceston on February 25, but he appeared to tire late and he was no much for talented three-year-old Admiral in the final stages of the race.
That form was franked last Saturday when Admiral finished a luckless fifth behind Wandjina in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 7 and Burles told Racing Ahead that The Cleaner had taken a great deal of benefit out of his first-up run.
“He pulled up beautiful and he has improved out of sight,” Burles said.
“He needed that run real bad and I am really happy with him.
“I have done a fair bit of work with him and he has taken it all in his stride and he is pretty happy.
“The big long straight gives those other horses a chance, but he will keep them busy.”
The Cleaner has stamped himself as one of the most popular horses in Australia due to his brave front-running style and Burles expects the Savoire Vivre gelding to press forward in the early stages of the race.
Jockey Steven Arnold was relatively conservative on The Cleaner in the George Adams Plate, but Burles said that the veteran hoop will be more aggressive in the Australian Cup and wind up the seven-year-old a long way from home.
“He will go forward, but if one of those three-year-olds wants to lead, good luck to them and I will sit on them,” Burles said.
“He will go a bit earlier this time and he can put the pressure on from the 1000 or the 1200, it doesn’t matter where he puts the pressure on he can sustain it right to the post.
“Whether they can sprint over them or not is another thing.”
Burles is yet to decide where The Cleaner will head after he runs in the Australian Cup this weekend, but the Longford-based trainer said that the Listed Mornington Cup (2400m) on March 28, the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Royal Randwick on April 4 and the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at the same venue a week later are all options for the veteran gelding.
The Cleaner will be having his four race start at Group 1 level after finishing third in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) and missing the placings in both the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) and Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) last year.