The Cleaner well backed


BOLD front-running stayer The Cleaner has been the best-backed runner in early betting on Sunday's $225,000 Hobart Cup.

Tattsbet opened The Cleaner at $11 in its fixed- odds market but consistent backing forced his price into $9.

Spokesman Brad Tamer said the Longford-trained gelding had been "easily the most popular runner" with Tattsbet punters.

"There was no substantial individual bet but steady support led to a reassessment of his price," Tamer said.

"Apart from The Cleaner, there has been an equal spread of money for Epingle, Surpass and Magnapal."

Victorian mare Epingle, a late entry, opened at $4.60 but shortened to $4 before easing slightly to $4.20.

Magnapal firmed from $8.50 into $7 and Craig Newitt's mount, Surpass, from $31 to $26.

However, there was no early support for opening favourite First Bloom and she drifted from $3.40 to $3.60.

Six horses were withdrawn from the field at yesterday's final acceptance, leaving six interstate and six local runners.

Topweight Geegees Blackflash, a past winner, fared poorly at the barrier draw and will start from the outside gate.

It's the second year in a row that he's drawn wide - he came out of barrier13 last year when third to Hurdy Gurdy Man and The Cleaner.

When he won two years ago, he drew barrier 6 in a 10-horse field.

Geegees Blackflash will be ridden by Stephen Maskiell, who has won the race three times, the most recent on St Andrews in 2002.

Other past winners with a ride on Sunday are Craig Williams (Epingle), Craig Newitt (Surpass) and Glen Boss (Relentless Pursuit).

There will be a strong female presence in year's field, with Michelle Payne on First Bloom, Nikita Beriman on Magnapal and Siggy Carr on Can Get Thirsty.

Only two females have ridden Hobart Cup winners - Bev Buckingham (Dark Intruder, Jam City and L'Espion) and Christine Puls (Our Dashing Dane).


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