Cult favourite The Cleaner will give local fans the chance to see him race this Wednesday before heading to the mainland for a busy autumn campaign.
The seven-year-old gelding is one of eight horses set to tackle the mile in the Listed George Adams Plate (1600m), running in support of the Group 3 Launceston Cup (2400m) on Wednesday. It will be The Cleaner’s first run since he travelled to Perth during the Summer Racing Carnival for the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m), in which he finished ninth.
The Cleaner enjoyed a gallop at his stables at Longford on Friday morning and the good blow-out has left him in top order for the George Adams Plate according to trainer Mick Burles.
Burles’ only concern is a few of the up-and coming youngsters in the field but the weight-for-age conditions of the race “pulls them back a bit”.
“He’s bloody brilliant,” Burles told Sky Racing.
“He’s had a trial and it doesn’t take him long to come up. Sometimes he comes up a bit too quick.
“He’s won three times first-up at the 1600 and I know where he’s got to be to get there and he’s there all right.
“The horse is happy and I’ll let you know how happy I am after Wednesday’s race.”
Following Wednesday’s race, The Cleaner will head to Melbourne for the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 14. Depending on his performance, Burles will decide whether to keep the gelding in Melbourne or travel to Sydney for the remainder of the season.
The Listed Mornington Cup (2000m) on March 28 is a possible next-up run but The Cleaner is also nominated for both the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) and Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick during The Championships.
The Cleaner became somewhat of a cult hero during the spring after finishing in the first two in all six of his first starts. This success led the gelding to earn a place in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m), his first ever Group One race. He was outclassed, finishing ninth to Adelaide, but fared much better in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) just two weeks later.
The gelding set a solid tempo then wound it up from the 1000m like he usually does. He looked in trouble on the straightening but fought on to finish third behind Hucklebuck and Lucky Hussler.
It was a grueling nine-race campaign for The Cleaner and racing fans are keen to see what he can deliver during the autumn. It’ll all begin on Wednesday as he defends his title in the 2015 George Adams Plate.