Former star apprentice Jason Maskiell made an emotional return to the Melbourne winner’s circle with victory in the feature $100,000 David Bourke Provincial Plate (1600m) at Flemington today.

The 22-year-old delivered a dashing front-running ride on Tasmanian visitor The Cleaner to record his first Melbourne win since a Caulfield victory aboard Beyond Pardon on 14 May 2011.

Maskiell, who was suspended by Racing Victoria stewards in September 2011 for prohibited substance use, has resurrected his career in his homeland of Tasmania after returning to the saddle 12 months ago.

“This is probably the most emotional win I’ve had,” Maskiell said after dismounting from the Mick Burles-trained raider.

“It’s two years probably since I’ve ridden here (at Flemington) and there’s been a lot of down times in there and to come back on a Tassie horse which is taking leaps and bounds and to win for the’s great.”

Sent forward to lead from the outside gate of 14, The Cleaner, who was first up since February’s Launceston Cup (2400m), kicked strongly in the straight to score at odds of $7.

Runner-up in the Hobart Cup (2000m) two starts back, The Cleaner held off Constant Force ($14) by three-quarters-of-a-length with second favourite Lord Durante ($4.40) a close up third.

Maskiell paid tribute to The Cleaner, now a winner at four of five 1600-metre starts, saying the horse’s effort was “really gutsy”.

“He’d probably be one of the toughest horses I’ve ever ridden and he can sustain a run for a long period of time. The way he switched off was terrific,” Maskiell said.

The win was Burles’ first at Flemington having prepared The Cleaner to a metropolitan midweek win at Sportingbet Park (Sandown) in August last year.

The five-year-old gelding, now a winner of half of his 26 starts, will transfer to Caulfield trainer Robert Smerdon for an extended winter campaign. (ex-Racing Victoria)

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