Popular gelding The Cleaner will make his debut at Group 2 level in the Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on September 6 after he scored a tough victory in the Jeep Don’t Hold Back Handicap (1600m) on Saturday.
The Cleaner went into the Jeep Don’t Hold Back Handicap as a clear favourite and he jumped from the gates well to take up his customary place at the front of the field in the early stages of the race.
First Course challenged The Cleaner for the lead at the 1200 metre mark, but jockey Noel Callow refused to give up the lead on the Cleaner and the pair pulled more than lengths away from the rest of the field.
The Cleaner pulled clear of First Course coming around the turn and Fast And Free loomed as the winner at the 200 metre mark, but The Cleaner showed his trademark fight and determination to hold on and record a memorable victory.
Trainer Mick Burles admitted that he thought The Cleaner would struggle to hold on at the 600 metre mark, but was delighted with the tough performance of his star galloper.
“I thought he was gone at the 600 metres after the other horse took him on, but he digs deep,” Burles said.
“I don’t mind if they want to start taking him on because I reckon they’ll come undone before he does.”
The Cleaner has previously recorded two wins at Listed level, taking out the 2012 Tasmanian Stakes (1600m) and 2014 George Adams Plate (1600m), but is yet to record a victory at Group level after finishing second in the Group 2 Hobart Cup (2400m) last year.
Burles is now eyeing a victory at Group level with The Cleaner and he confirmed that the seven-year-old would contest the Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes and Group 3 JRA Cup (2040m) at Moonee Valley on September 26; with the Tasmanian trainer indicating that he would love to see the Savoire Vivre gelding in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25.
“He’s up to it, I’d love to get a group race behind him,” Burles said.
The Cleaner was purchased for just $10,000 at the 2009 Tasmanian Magic Millions Yearling Sale and has now recorded 16 race wins from 41 starts and accumulated $572,271 in prizemoney for connections.