Owen Burrows is relishing the prospect of getting Minzaal back on track when he lines up in the 1895 Duke Of York Clipper Logistics Stakes at York on Wednesday.
The four-year-old was only seen twice last season, both at Ascot, firstly landing Listed honours over five furlongs before finishing a creditable third in the Group One British Champions Sprint Stakes.
That end-of-season showing gives Burrows plenty of optimism ahead of his reappearance, with the son of Mehmas returning to the Knavesmire for the first time since scooping Group Two honours in the Gimcrack as a two-year-old.
“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,” said Burrows.
“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. 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.
“I think that proved he was certainly a quality horse – hopefully he’ll get his chance this year to prove it as well.”
Back in fifth at Ascot on British Champions Day was Vadream, who is one of two in the race for Charlie Fellowes alongside stablemate Ejtilaab, who reverts to turf having campaigned on the all-weather of late.
Dragon Symbol finished in the first four six times in Group company last season and now makes his first appearance for Roger Varian.
Luck was not on the Cable Bay colt’s side when going down by a nose in the Sandy Lane at Haydock before crossing the line in front in the Commonwealth Cup, before being demoted by the stewards.
Rohaan got the better of Dragon Symbol at Haydock before following up at Ascot and although unable to trouble the judge since, could bounce back for David Evans. He was last seen finishing fifth in Saudi Arabia.
One who didn’t fare so well in Dubai though was Kevin Ryan’s Emaraaty Ana, with the Yorkshire-based handler keen to see the Group One winner return to form before he heads to Royal Ascot for the Platinum Jubilee Stakes.
Ryan said: “He’s in good form, obviously he’s on a recovery mission as he didn’t perform over in Dubai. He’s got a penalty as well, but we just need to run him somewhere before Ascot, so it’s going to be a tough test for him and we just hope he runs well. We’d just like to see a good run.”
Garrus built on his reappearance in the Cammidge Trophy when beaten a short head in the Abernant Stakes last time and Charlie Hills reaches for a pair of blinkers now as the six-year-old attempts to continue Ryan Moore’s hot streak in the saddle.
“I was pleased with his last run, he went really close then and he’s won at York before which is encouraging,” said Hills.
“He’s worked in blinkers and worked very nicely in them, so we’ve decided to leave them on. He’s pretty cute now, he’s been doing it for a long time being a six-year-old gelding and he’s a bit laid back now, so it’s just to try to give him something else to think about.”
William Haggas is happy to get Hurricane Ivor out again quickly despite him disappointing on his reappearance in the Palace House Stakes.
“He was outpaced at Newmarket, I don’t think he’d ever been so fast in his life and he’s got a lot of speed,” said Haggas.
“We felt backing him up was good, he’d have a Group Three penalty in the lesser races so we’ll start here and then we’ll take it from there.
“He’s at his best over a stiff five, Newmarket was too fast, but he’ll be better for that run. It’s a bit quick coming back but we’re in the scenario of nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
Spycatcher brings smart all-weather form to the table representing Middleham-based Karl Burke, as does John Quinn’s Royal Ascot scorer Highfield Princess.
Richard Hannon’s classy filly Happy Romance had been declared but was pulled out on Tuesday afternoon having gone lame.