On The Watch

The Cleaner’s Influence Already Being Noticed As He Heads Towards Another Cox Plate

Now a nine-year-old in the Peter Gelagotis stable at Moe, The Cleaner had his second run this preparation for his new trainer in Saturday’s Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (Gr 2, 1600m) at his favoured Moonee Valley track.

And despite his rising years, The Cleaner showed he is far from a spent force by injecting a strong mid-race tempo that had his opposition under pressure a long way from home.

After working in the early stages from his wide barrier (11) to reach the lead, The Cleaner produced solid 200 metre fractions of 12.23, 12.19, 11.83, 11.79 and 12.46 for a 1000 metre time (from the 1200 metres to the 200 metres) of 60.50 – fast on Saturday’s Good4 track.

He only weakened on passing the 200 metres, clocking 12.93 for that final section, before holding on for a most respectable fifth, beaten just over three lengths.

The Cleaner’s first Cox Plate appearance was in 2014 when his tearaway tactics saw the Irish-bred Adelaide (Galileo) come from the tail of the field to score in a time of 2:03.76, which was only 0.26 outside of Might And Power’s (Zabeel) the track record set in 1988.

One year later and The Cleaner’s mid-race speed influence resulted in champion mare Winx (Street Cry) going a step further by setting a new Moonee Valley track record time of 2:02.98 – 0.52 faster than Might And Power’s 27-year-old record.

Whether the now nine-year-old makes it to the barrier again at Moonee Valley on 22 October remains to be seen but in the meantime The Cleaner will ensure a genuine tempo in any lead-up race he contests, as he did in last Saturday’s Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes.

After drifting back from barrier two, the winner Awesome Rock (Fastnet Rock) settled near last in the 14-horse field, progressed along the rails to be third at the home turn and dashed clear in the straight to score decisively by two lengths, clocking a solid 47.54 for his last 800 metres.

The staying mares Real Love (Desert King) and Set Square (Rest) filled the placings, the former clocking 47.71 for her final 800 metres in a promising first-up effort.

While a feature of Set Square’s performance was her mid-race sectional times, especially considering she when posted deep from barrier nine as The Cleaner was running along in front.

Set Square, travelling in about ninth place (wide out), clocked 59.88 for her 1000 metres (from the 1200 metre point to the 200 metre mark) so the 2014 VRC Oaks (Gr 1, 2500m) winner did exceptionally well in holding on gamely for third.

It was only her second run from a spell and her effort suggest that Set Square is set for a very good preparation, perhaps her best since her Group One victory at Flemington, which was her last win now 11 starts ago.

Other noteworthy efforts in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes were the first-up runs of fourth-placed Tosen Stardom (Deep Impact) and The United States (Galileo) who finished sixth.

Both imports were held up for clear running, making late ground in the closing stages in promising performances.

Tosen Stardom clocked 48.03 (last 800 metres) and 36.19 (last 600 metres) while The United States was timed to run his last 800 metres in 48.04 with his final 600 metres in 36.16.

Others to impress on the watch at Moonee Valley included Voodoo Lad (I Am Invincible) who had appeared to have lost all chance when badly away in the Chandler MacLeod Stakes (Listed, 1200m).

Voodoo Lad then came from last in the 14-horse field at the home turn to score, seemingly with something in hand, by a length in an outstanding effort.

The Darren Weir-trained runner returned some of the fastest closing sectional times of the meeting with his last 800 metres in 46.18, last 600 metres in 34.83, last 400 metres in 23.47 with his final 200 metres in 11.70.

It was Voodoo Lad’s eighth win in 15 starts and his second stakes success but going by Saturday’s performance he now looks set to progress to Group company.

Another favourite to suffer from a bad beginning was Heatherly (Lonhro) and while that four-year-old mare did not recover and win like Voodoo Lad, her third placing in the McEwen Stakes (Gr 2, 1000m) was still full of merit.

After missing the start, Heatherly was caught deep before racing in sixth place, but going keenly behind runners being a noted leader in an unorthodox role.

She moved up deep from the 600 metres and kept fighting well to finish third, just over a length from the winner Wild Rain (Manhattan Rain), who had led at a solid pace before winning in the smart time of 58.82 on the Good4 track.

Timed from the 800 metre point, Heatherly ran 200 metre sections of 11.09, 11.07 (400m in 22.16), 11.08 (600m in 33.24) and 11.74 for a fast last 800 metre time of 44.98 – plus she trapped deep for most of that way.

Feature racing at Randwick on Saturday was highlighted by the running of the Chelmsford Stakes (Gr 2, 1600m) with a stunning victory going to the Godolphin-raced stayer Hartnell (Authorized) who won effortlessly by seven and three quarter lengths.

In the absence of Winx, who was scratched due to the Heavy conditions, Harnell’s task was made vastly easier and although he defeated a field that mostly prefer longer distances, last year’s The BMW (registered as H E Tancred Stakes) (Gr 1, 2400m) winner could not have been any more impressive.

Harnell, racing on a Heavy8 track, returned 200 metre sections (from the 1000m point) of 12.31, 11.84, 11.77, 11.59 and 12.34, giving him a final 1000 metres in 59.85, last 800 metres in 47.54 with his last 600 metres in 35.70, last 400m in 23.93.

He now heads toward The Metropolitan (Gr 1, 2400m) at Randwick on 1 October and with proven credentials over that longer trip, Harnell is expected to prove very hard to beat judging by his outstanding current form.