Iconic Tasmanian racehorse trainer Mick Burles has died, aged 70, after a long battle with illness.
A self-proclaimed battler, Burles found fame late in life when The Cleaner, a horse he bought for only $10,000 and later sold to three mates, became a national cult hero.
The Cleaner won 19 races and almost $1.4 million in Burles' care and became the first Tasmanian-trained horse to run in the Cox Plate in 2014 and 2015.
Burles described The Cleaner, whom he affectionately call "Bill", as the type of horse that only came along "once in a lifetime".
In 2016, a dispute between Burles and the owners saw The Cleaner transferred to a Victorian trainer, but he never won another race.
Burles, who battled emphysema for almost a decade, was eventually forced to give up training in 2018.
Upon retirement he said he had achieved everything he needed to as a trainer.
"I have had some good horses over the years, but Bill was different," he said.
"He is the horse that every trainer dreams of.
"I have achieved more than I ever thought I would, except winning the Cox Plate.
"That would have been the icing on the cake."
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Burles said he always had a soft spot for horses.
Growing up on a dairy farm, as a young boy he said his days were spent either on a horse or near one, but his start in the racing industry took some time to develop.
Burles' first taste for horse racing came during his days in the army.
Based at Puckapunyal in 1968, he said he was dragged along to a race in Seymour where he "reluctantly" decided to put a bet down.
But after one win he was hooked.
"I thought, well I could get used to this," he said.
"I didn't really know what it was all about back then, but its so easy to get caught up in it all.
"It was just a bit of fun - I had a bit of fun."
After spending time learning the ropes Burles started training horses in the mid 90s and, at his height, Burles had about 20 horses under his management.
Burles died early Sunday morning in a nursing home at Longford where he recently said life in retirement was "bloody beautiful".
Racing Minister Elise Archer sent condolences to Burles' family and friends.
"Mick was a well respected member of the Tasmanian racing community and forged a very successful career, in particular with the cult hero and Tasmanian thoroughbred racehorse The Cleaner," Ms Archer said.
"The iconic duo won 19 races together and blazed the trail for local racing by becoming the first Tasmanian horse and trainer to compete in the Cox Plate.
"Mick was a wonderful role model and certainly left a lasting legacy," she said.