The Cleaner earns Plate start with WFA win

Popular front-runner The Cleaner and his knockabout trainer Mick Burles have earned the right to a place in the Cox Plate field after a typically determined win in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes.

In a race where Melbourne Cup favourite The Offer delighted jockey Tommy Berry with his return, The Cleaner earned exemption from the Cox Plate ballot his all-the-way victory on Saturday.

Longford-based Burles, who sold shares in The Cleaner to his golf mates, was convinced The Cleaner had the ability and toughness to win the Group Two weight-for-age race at Moonee Valley and the gelding didn’t let him down.

“He’s a bloody champion, isn’t he?” Burles said.

“Just to have a runner, let alone try to win the Cox Plate. It’s not beyond him. He’s got a lot of guts. And he’ll show you how good he is over 2000 metres in three weeks (in the JRA Cup).”

The Cleaner was well-supported during the week and firmed again late from $4.80 to $4.40 favourite.

With a racing style that has earned him many fans, The Cleaner took up his customary front-running role but with Steven Arnold aboard for the first time his lead was kept to a minimum.

Arnold said The Cleaner travelled well through the first half of the race and was confident he could hold his rivals.

The Cleaner defeated Mourinho ($14) by three-quarters of a length with a long neck to the fast-finishing Foreteller ($7).

“He really captures the imagination of the racing people with his racing style,” Arnold said.

The Offer settled back in the field and tracked into the race wide coming into the home straight before doing his best work on the line to finish fifth.

Berry, who partnered the stayer to important autumn wins including the Sydney Cup, is convinced The Offer has returned better again and is on target to be a force on the first Tuesday in November.

“I wish the Melbourne Cup was tomorrow,” Berry said.

The favourite Star Rolling settled second but was disappointing in finishing sixth.