Mick Burles has been a battler all his life and isn’t about to give up on his Cox Plate dream just yet.
Burles is holding his head high after his mate and fellow Tassie battler The Cleaner again set the pace in the $3 million weight-for-age contest, before finishing seventh in a world-class field.
“I’m pretty proud of him,” Burles told AAP.
“He’s a strong horse, a tough horse. He just keeps trying.”
The Cleaner was up front for much of the race before being headed by the Chris Waller-trained Winx as the field turned for home.
“They’re some of the best horses in the world he’s running against.
“He finished in the first eight so I’m happy.”
A win may have signalled retirement for the Longford trainer, but Burles believes he and the eight-year-old galloper have a third Cox Plate in them.
“Definitely. Definitely. I’m not ready to retire yet, the horse is not either.
“He’s a real late maturer and he’s only been racing for about three-and-a-half, four years – he’s not over-raced.”
Though he ended up further back in the field than the $10,000 horse Burles sold to three golfing mates, 12th-placed Mourinho still did his chicken shop trainers from Moe proud.
Peter Gelagotis, known with his racing manager and brother Manny as “the chicken boys”, lamented the eight-year-old’s wide barrier.
“We came here knowing that we were facing a huge mountain with the barrier.
“That sort of pressure in the Cox Plate out that wide, it’s too tough. It doesn’t matter how good you are.”
Like Burles, Gelagotis was still proud of even getting a runner in what he described as one of the best Cox Plates in the last decade.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity. If we ever get a horse next time hopefully we’re better for that experience.
“We didn’t win but it doesn’t matter.”