Mick Burles, best known for preparing popular Tasmanian galloper The Cleaner, has called time on his training career because of illness.
Burles, who along with cult hero The Cleaner captured the imagination of the Australian horse racing community a few seasons ago, last had a runner at Launceston in late February.
“It’s been coming for a while but it had to be made and it was tough. I didn’t want to give up,” Burles told RSN927.
Burles, who has emphysema, says the early mornings are bad for his health.
“If I kept going there at 5 o’clock in the morning, I’d only half my life (of) what I had left,” he said.
“Just the cold air and everything, the chance of getting chills. Because a common cold can kill you when you’ve got emphysema. But anyway, I’m still kicking.”
Trained for the majority of his career by Burles at Longford in Tasmania, The Cleaner, who was bought for $10,000 as a yearling and earned more than $1.3 million, won 19 of his 58 starts.
They included back-to-back Group Two Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes at Moonee Valley in 2014 and 2015.
Those wins earned the bold frontrunner his place in consecutive Cox Plates at Moonee Valley but he was unplaced in the weight-for-age championship.
Burles still reminisces about the trips across Bass Strait on the ferry with The Cleaner and tackling some of Australia’s big races in Melbourne.
“Occasionally I throw a disc in and have a bit of a look. I think about it a lot,” he said.
The Cleaner was transferred from Burles to Victorian trainer Peter Gelagotis late in his career and his final start came in October 2016 before he was retired.
Burles said he got to catch up with his mate The Cleaner a few months ago when they were both at Armidale Stud in Tasmania.
“I was sitting out at Armidale and he came straight up to me,” Burles said.
“I was sitting on a chair with everyone else and he came straight up to me and put his nose in my pocket looking for his carrot. There happened to be one there. He was munching away on it and giving me a nuzzle.
“He knew me.
“Everybody there couldn’t believe it. Horses don’t forget mate, I’m telling you.”