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Press Release 30th August 2022 Haydock Park

Owen Burrows admits it would be the “perfect weekend” if Minzaal could open his Group One account in the Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock Park on Saturday (3rd September) along with his beloved Everton FC taking three points on the same day in the Merseyside derby.  

Having reached the frame three times in his four previous Group One attempts, the son of Mehmas will try make it fifth time lucky at the top level in the six-furlong contest, which forms part of the QIPCO British Champions Series, and give the Lambourn handler his second Group One victory of the season. Minzaal is the 9-2 Favourite with sponsor Betfair.

However, before Burrows turns his attention to Minzaal, who is one of 19 five-day confirmations for the Betfair Sprint Cup, he will be keeping a close eye on the score from the lunchtime kick off at Goodison Park, where he will be hoping the blue half of Merseyside emerges victorious.

Burrows said: “I would much prefer Minzaal to be winning the Sprint Cup as being an Everton fan we don’t have much to celebrate at the moment!

“Minzaal has shown a high level of ability over the three years he has raced and he has been knocking on the door of a Group One. 

“From myself and my team’s point of view I’d love to get his head in front in a Group One and he would be a valuable horse then. 

“If I don’t manage to catch the result at the track the drive back from Haydock Park with Radio 5 Live on could be interesting. 

“If the football results come on and Everton had managed to beat Liverpool and we win the Sprint Cup it wouldn’t be far off a perfect weekend.”

Apart from finishing down the field in the Platinum Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, a run which Burrows believes a line can be put through, Minzaal has proven a model of consistency in 2022 having not finished outside the frame in his three other starts. 

Finishing third in the Group Two 1895 Duke of York Stakes at York on his return, Minzaal has since claimed the Group Three Hackwood Stakes at Newbury before finishing second in the Group One Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville. 

Burrows continued: “He has run some very solid races this year. I was happy enough with him at York as he had been a bit slow to come to hand and I knew that race would switch him on and it did.

“We tried something at Royal Ascot in putting the cheekpieces on and trying to ride him more prominently but it didn’t pay off. He then went and won the Hackwood before finishing second in France behind an exceptional filly in Highfield Princess.

“It would be great if he could get his head in front in a Group One as he been placed at that level at two, three and four.”

While over the past three seasons racegoers have been able to witness Minzaal’s talents on the track former jump jockey Burrows insists he had an inclination he could be an above average type after impressing during his early work on the gallops. 

He said: “I picked him with Angus Gold (Shadwell Estate Company racing manager) at Tattersalls October Book Two yearling sale in 2019.

“He was a lovely yearling and a very athletic horse. It was the year of Covid and we were ticking them over for six weeks not knowing quite what was going to happen racing-wise.

“I bunched up the two year olds in groups of six to eight and they did a nice strong canter one morning on one of my grass gallops. I looked at him then and thought he looks a bit better than average.

“I remember Richard Hills coming into ride him one morning before he went to Ascot and he was very impressed and said you have got a better than average two year old here and he feels up to stakes company and he wasn’t far wrong.”

Injury might have forced to Minzaal to miss a chunk of last year, however Burrows was confident that he could make up for lost time this season after signing off the 2021 campaign when finishing third in the Group One QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot. 

He said: “He showed a little bit of inexperience first time at Ascot at two and he then won in a hack canter at Salisbury. We stepped him up to Group Two company in the Gimcrack and he won that well before things didn’t pan out in the Middle Park.

“Unfortunately he picked up a little injury in the winter in his stable so we didn’t see him until the back end of last year. I thought it was a massive performance to finish third in a Group One on the back of the preparation he had. 

“He has been a very laid back character and a pleasure to train. As a sprinter, they can be a little bit hot but he is not like that.

“A prime example is he went to France a few weekends ago and lost one kilo that is the type of horse he is. He takes his racing great.

“The only time he comes alive is when you leg the jockey up at the races. He has got a wonderful temperament and you would much rather have horses like that.”

Betfair Sprint Cup - Betfair Odds: 9-2 Minzaal, 5-1 Naval Crown, 7-1 Emaraaty Ana, 7-1 Kinross, 9-1 Brad The Brief, 9-1 Rohaan, 12-1 Art Power, 12-1 Go Bears Go, 16-1 Harry Three, 20-1 Castle Star, 20-1 Dragon Symbol, 20-1 Khaadem, 25-1 Hala Hala Athmani, 33-1 Chil Chil, 40-1 Dubawi Legend, 40-1 Flaming Rib, 40-1 Great Ambassador, 40-1 Umm Kulthum, 66-1 Ventura Diamond

Betfair Spokesman, Barry Orr, commented today: “Only half a point separates the top two at the head of the market but early preference is for the Owen Burrows-trained, Minzaal.

“Last year’s winner, Emaraaty Ana, is yet to win this season but his third place in the Nunthrope signalled a possible return to form. He will have to overcome history though, as no horse has ever won back-to-back runnings of the Group One contest in its present guise.”

This year has seen Burrows, who was previously a private trainer for the late Hamdan Al Maktoum, move yards in Lambourn from Kingwood House to Farncombe Down Stables along with having to streamline his operation. 

Despite working with a smaller string Burrows, who secured his first Group One with Hukum in the Cazoo Coronation Cup at Epsom Downs in June, has praised the hard work of his staff for helping make this season a success. 

He added: “Credit to my team they have got their heads down and grafted all year and I think their results show that. It was my best year in terms last year and we have smashed that already.

“For a team of mid 30s that is a pretty good effort. We’ve had five stakes winners here and Hukum in the Group Two in Dubai on Super Saturday. This can only help going forward.

“It is great seeing all these horses come through when I’ve really needed it. If it had been quiet this year with trying to attract new owners it would have made it more difficult.”

Back to matters in hand and Burrows is confident Minzaal is likely to have plenty of things in his favour in his latest bid for Group One glory.

He added: “We hope they go a nice genuine gallop. He has shown a likeness to being slightly held up then you are in the lap of the Gods then. He is pretty versatile and I wouldn’t have too many worries about the track.

“It is black and white in the books that we have a Group One which is nice but when you have one you want two.

“They all mean plenty and big races come with a bit of pressure and you just want your horses to perform.

“Touchwood bar Ascot, where it wasn’t his fault, he has always performed well for us so hopefully he will again.”


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