Tasmanian champ The Cleaner will head home for a well-deserved rest after finishing out of a place in the Group 1 $1m Carlton Draught-Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot in Perth last Saturday.
The Cleaner took up his usual front running spot in the Railway Stakes but was under pressure at the top of the straight before fading to be a well beaten ninth, three lengths behind local mare Elite Belle.
Regular rider Steven Arnold said that The Cleaner felt like he had come to the end of a long hard campaign and found wanting a long way from home.
“He sweated up badly before the race, got quite stirred up, which is unlike him,’’ Arnold told the Herald Sun.
“He laid out the whole way and he has probably come to the end of it.
“He just wasn’t quite himself. I was in trouble 600m out. He still tried his heart out, but he’s just come to the end of it.”
Longford trainer Mick Burles and The Cleaner’s owners made a belated decision to send the front running crowd pleaser to Perth after a gruelling Melbourne Spring Carnival campaign which produced some courageous efforts.
The first of The Cleaner’s nine race track appearances during his latest campaign was a second in the $80,000 VRC-CRV Winter Championship Series Heat 1 (1400m) at Flemington on May 24 and he raced right through to the Perth Carnival with only a couple of small freshen ups along the way.
But the tough gelding was able to win four times including a win in the Group 2 $250,000 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) on September 6 and the Group 3 $200,000 Alternate Railway JRA Cup (2040m) on September 26 both at Moonee Valley.
The Cleaner’s winning form then earned him a start in the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25 when he led the high quality weight for age field into the home turn before finishing three and three quarter lengths ninth to the super Irish galloper Adelaide.
Burles then tested The Cleaner at Group 1 level again and as usual the seven year old gave his all with a fighting third behind Hucklebuck and Lucky Hussler in the Group 1 $1m Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on November 8, the final day of the four day Melbourne Cup Carnival, before heading to Perth.
Burles is keen to prepare The Cleaner for the Group 1 WFA $1m Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 14 and is planning to kick off his Autumn Carnival campaign in the Listed $100,000 WFA Tattsbet.com George Adams (1600m) at Launceston on February 25.
The Cleaner is edging closer to the $1 million mark in prizemoney, having earned $938,270 to date from eighteen wins from forty-six starts.