The Cleaner | The Tasmanian Cult Racehorse
The Cleaner - The Ultimate Rags To Riches Story
The Cleaner ran among the last at his first races and was considered particularly slow and plain-looking. If back then someone told you that he would be racing for millions, you’d say that they’d inhaled cleaning fluid.
But, that’s what happened. The Cleaner became the unexpected champion and cult racehorse after his trainer, Mick Burles, then a broke pensioner, bought him for $10,000 in 2009, money he didn’t have at all. But, when he saw him, he couldn’t resist buying him. He felt that the horse sung to him “buy me!”
The deal-breaker was the white sock the horse wore, and only champions wore one sock, he said. But, The Cleaner was yet to become a champion. His first races in 2011 in Launceston were terrible finishing last always. And then, something remarkable happened. Burles was advised to fit blinkers on The Cleaner by Stephen Maskiell, a local horseman. And the trick worked!
The reason why The Cleaner was slower than the other horses was because he was distracted by them. With the blinkers his vision was restricted so it could focus on the track and see only the front. On top of that, Burles was advised to let The Cleaner run at the front of the pack.
After that, The Cleaner made his first win. And then three weeks later, he made his second win. It won 19 races under Burles. The other horses would occasionally have caught on him, but they would just wilt in the pursuit as The Cleaner went to the lead. He made any horse that ran past him look like a real classy animal.
Today, The Cleaner is a retired 10-year old gelding, a champion horse with cult status. It was retired in October 2016 after finishing 7th in the Coongy Cup. His jockey, Steve Arnold, made the recommendation after noticing that the horse has had too much wear and tear.
The Cleaner was still feeling the tracks, but enough is enough. He was still taking his customary position in the front, but had troubles maintaining it. The white flag was raised.
Also known as the ‘Longford Lion’, The Cleaner will remain as one of the most popular horses in Australia and Tasmania thanks to his tough front-running style. Mick Burles’ laconic character has made a big contribution to the Cleaner’s cult status too.
In 2015, The Cleaner was taken away from his trainer Burles to Victoria after several conflicts with the owners who thought that they could suck another year out of him. According to Burles, they sacked him because he contested that forcing The Cleaner to race for another year would run him to the ground. It was all “greed and ego” said Burles in December 2015.
Burles had a strong relationship with his horse, who he discovered and trained for 9 years. Under Burles the galloper won more than $1 million in prize money. And probably he was right. Injuries and illness took their toll, which were the main reasons behind The Cleaner’s retirement. A sad end to one of the best racehorse stories.
The Cleaner's stats were 19 Wins, 12 Seconds and 4 Thirds from 58 starts winning $1,349,771.00.