The Courier-Mail

Time’s right for The Cleaner to shine

- MATT STEWART IN MEL­BOURNE

THE Cleaner con­tin­ues to defy na­ture – but can he defy Con­tributer at Moonee Val­ley to­day?

Aged eight the “Long­ford Lion” is still grow­ing, still im­prov­ing, ac­cord­ing to his trainer Mick Burles.

“He’s back bet­ter and stronger this year even though he’s an eight-year-old – he’s still big­ger,’’ Burles (right) said.

The Cleaner beat Mour­inho and Foreteller in last year’s Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes en route to a JRA Cup win and a ninth plac­ing in the Cox Plate.

The bar seems to have been raised sig­nif­i­cantly this spring as The Cleaner em­barks on the same Cox Plate path.

John O’Shea’s im­ported pair Con­tributer and Hart­nell shape as a lethal Cups and Cox Plate tag team and both are ex­pected to con­firm their sta­tus as the ones to beat in those races to­day.

Con­tributer cut a swathe through The Cham­pi­onships in Syd­ney last au­tumn, fend­ing off the pow­er­ful Ja­panese and horses such as Hart­nell and Silent Achiever, and has been heav­ily backed to beat The Cleaner and Mour­inho in the Dato at Moonee Val­ley to­day.

Jockey Dwayne Dunn has no doubt “Con­tributer’s form’’ is sig­nif­i­cantly stronger than the Mel­bourne WFA form.

“It’s a class above,” he said. “If Con­tributer gets the right sort of run I think he’ll prove it.

“The cream should rise to the top.’’

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