The Cleaner is now into Conquering WFA odds of $1.85 and the popular galloper is set to start the Listed event at Launceston tonight as a clear favourite.
The Cleaner did not perform at his best during his autumn campaign in Melbourne, but he returned to his best during the 2015 Spring Racing Carnival and he was arguably unlucky not to record a maiden win at the highest level of racing.
The Savoire Vivre gelding returned to the races with a very close second behind Mourinho in the Group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 15 and he proved too good for his rivals to win the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on September 5 for the second year in a row.
The Cleaner was only just run down by Mourinho and Fawkner in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on September 26 and he was far from disgraced when seventh behind Winx in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 24.
Trainer Mick Burles elected to give The Cleaner only a short spell following the Cox Plate, but he is thrilled with the physical condition of his star gelding and he is confident that he can return to winning form in the Conquering this afternoon despite having been beaten by Admiral in the Listed George Adams Plate (1600m) earlier this year.
“I have had the horse thoroughly checked and his blood is 100% so he will go into this race in great order health wise,” Burles said.
“Some might think he is going to be vulnerable first-up over 1400m but he has been very competitive over 1200m in the past when resuming from a short break so the 1400m shouldn’t bother him.
“Noel Callow is coming over to ride him and that’s a plus so I am pretty confident he can win, even with Admiral in the field.”
Punters believe that the Conquering is basically a match race between The Cleaner and Admiral and the talented four-year-old is the only other horse that is available at single figuring Conquering odds.
Admiral was sent for a lengthy stint in the spelling paddock following his more than credible fifth behind Wandjina in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) in March and he returned to the races with a luckless fifth in the Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Launceston on November 18.
There has been a sprinkling of support in the Conquering betting market with Ladbrokes for One Shot Off ($151 into $101), while Gladstone ($81 out to $101) and Player One ($34 out to $41) have both been on the drift.