LEADING bookmaker Nick Whelan rates in-form Longford stayer The Cleaner as the horse to beat and has him at the top of his markets for Wednesday's $100,000 Devonport Cup.
``I think there is only three chances in the cup and I like The Cleaner ahead of Fieldmaster and Catwen Boy,'' he said.
Whelan has The Cleaner the early $3 favourite, with Fieldmaster and Catwen Boy on the second line of betting at $5.
Whelan said he had been impressed with The Cleaner's two front-running wins this preparation, the latest when he beat home last year's Hobart Cup winner Gee Gees Blackflash at Mowbray on Wednesday night.
Whelan's early market on the cup is subject to change after tomorrow's barrier draw and calcutta on the race.
``Some of the outsiders might get a good draw, which will give them a soft run through the race but I can't see them worrying the top three,'' he said.
Whelan said the appearance of Runnymede six-year-old Makes Cents had added some intrigue to the race.
``Makes Cents challenges for the lead every time he races and as we've seen The Cleaner also leads,'' he said.
``But I expect The Cleaner to be in front in the closing stages and Fieldmaster and Catwen Boy being the late swoopers.''
This will be the second year The Cleaner has gone to the post as favourite.
He was the $3.20 top pick and finished seventh last year although it was later revealed he had pulled up sore.
Trainer Mick Burles believes the six-year-old is now more mature and ready to tackle the rigors of a tough race like the Devonport Cup.
He will be ridden by former top apprentice Jason Maskiell who has an unbeaten record on him.
The Devonport Racing Club was not required to exercise its balloting powers when just 14 horses accepted for the race.
Fieldmaster, trained by Patrick Payne and to be ridden by Steven Arnold, remains the only interstater in the race after the connections of Scaredymac and Spacecraft decided to stay in Victoria.
Three other Victorian-based jockeys have accepted rides with Craig Newitt, attempting his fifth win in the race aboard $15 chance Lightly Spiced, Anthony Darmanin on Naadji and Jacki Beriman the late engagement for outsider Tree Bandit.
Tomorrow's barrier draw and calcutta will be held at 2pm.