The Cleaner was allocated the outside gate at the 2014 Cox Plate barrier draw yesterday, but jockey Steven Arnold does not believe that the wide draw will be an issue for the popular front-runner in the Group 1 event at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
The Cleaner is expected to take up the running in the early stages of the Cox Plate, but Arnold told Sky Racing HQ that the wide barrier draw means that he can take his time taking the Tasmanian galloper to the front and does not have to rely on the Savoire Vivre gelding springing out of the gates.
“Obviously all the inside gates go early and around the four, five, six and seven is probably the ones that you aim for and then either you go in a bit or out a bit,” Arnold said.
“The last three get the outside draws, but for this guy I don’t think that it is a huge concern.
“Sometimes he can step slightly slowly and we are just going to roll at his tempo and if it takes me 200 metres or 400 metres to roll to the front then that is fine, I don’t have to be in a panic and try to drive him out at the stalls or anything like that.
“It is probably a better gate than gate one because if he had drawn gate one and you miss the start slightly then you are in a bit of trouble.
“He will just slide around outside them and however long that takes I will just have him comfortable and in a good rhythm.
“When he gets to the front so be it.”
The Cleaner earnt a start in the 2014 Cox Plate field with a strong front-running win in the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on September 6 and he took out the Group 3 JRA Cup (2040m) at the same venue on September 26 after Arnold applied the pressure to his rivals at the 800 metre mark.
Arnold said that The Cleaner does not have an explosive turn-of-foot like some of his rivals in the Cox Plate, but he has the ability to sustain a quick tempo a long way from home and the leading hoop said that he will tailor his ride to appeal to the strengths of the seven-year-old this weekend.
“He can run reasonable sectionals during the mid stages of the race.
“I have sort of studied his sectionals; he got a couple of easier ones down past the 1400 last time, but then it is his strength to be able to take the sprint out of the other horses.
“You don’t want to be waiting too long and let them sprint to you, you want to be building up and sucking that sprint out of some of the other runners.
“He hasn’t got a big top speed, but he can sustain good sectionals for a long time.”
The Cleaner is currently available at 2014 Cox Plate odds of $14, while Fawkner has drifted out to $4.20 as the support for promising three-year-old Sweynesse ($34 into $21) has continued.