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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