OWEN BURROWS is hoping that Minzaal can serve as one of his stable flag-bearers in 2022, starting with a bold showing in the Group 2 1895 Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes on Wednesday 11 May – the opening day of the Dante Festival at York Racecourse.
Burrows has relaunched for 2022 as a public trainer after a restructure within his previous employer Shadwell – although the renowned operation still retains its link with him in the shape of several classy horses, such as Hukum and Minzaal.
Indeed, Minzaal enjoyed the finest hour of his career to date when landing the 2020 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack Stakes on the Knavesmire.
Unfortunately for connections the Mehmas colt was side-lined with an injury for much of last year. But he showed his talents were very much intact when finishing third in the Group 1 QIPCO British Champions Stakes at Ascot in the autumn.
And now Lambourn-based Burrows has Minzaal primed for his seasonal bow back at the scene of his Gimcrack triumph. The handler views the £140,000 contest as a good starting point to a four-year-old campaign with the Platinum Jubilee Stakes and Darley July Cup as potential summer targets.
Burrows said: “I don’t want to get too excited but I think he could be a real flag-bearer for us this year.
“We felt it would be good to get back to York and it sets us up nicely then for Ascot, which then hopefully sets you up nicely for the July Cup.”
Minzaal has wintered well after finishing in the frame behind Creative Force last October. Burrows said: “I was thrilled with how he ran on Champions Day. I thought he performed with a lot of credit and proved that he still retains plenty of his ability.
“He has been with me all winter, ticking over. Physically he has really strengthened up this year and I’ve had a good preparation with him. It’s the start of his season, so he will come on for it.
“But it will be good to get him back on the track and obviously he was impressive in the Gimcrack at York.”
Minzaal won by two lengths on that occasion when the race was staged behind closed doors.
Burrows added: “You could see halfway through the race how well he was travelling. He doesn’t overdo himself when he hits the front but it was a very impressive performance. So, I think that proved that he was certainly a quality horse – hopefully he’ll get his chance this year to prove it as well.”
Burrows relocated towards the end of last year and is now training from Farncombe Down Stables. He has just over 30 horses in the yard, including Hukum who landed a Group 2 at Meydan in March. Burrows said: “Hopefully this year can be a building year and come the October sales we can fill the place and have a few elsewhere in pre-training. It’s like starting from scratch again with the added bonus of having a few good flag-bearers. We’ve been quiet but have three runners tomorrow, so we’re just starting to get going.”
Minzaal is one of 17 horses confirmed at the six-day entry stage for the most valuable ever staging of the 1895 Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes.
The other Group race on the opening day of York’s season is the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes, a key trial for the Oaks at Epsom. Now worth a record £125,000, the Group 3 has attracted eight entries, including impressive Sandown novice stakes winner Emily Upjohn.
The Dante Festival at York runs from Wednesday 11May to Friday 13 May inclusive. For tickets and information please visit www.yorkracecourse.co.uk