Burnley’s players are bonding not just over Premier League ambitions this season but horse racing, too.
Midfielder Jack Cork, his wife Freya and striker Chris Wood set up the More Turf Racing syndicate and have roped in goalkeeper Nick Pope, defenders Matt Lowton and James Tarkowski and former Clarets forward Sam Vokes, who now plays for Stoke.
The syndicate own a number of horses and work with three stables, including Michael Owen’s Manor House Stables in Cheshire.
All the members of the syndicate were at Chester earlier this month to see their horse Breathalyze win a novice stakes on just his second outing in their claret, blue and yellow colours.
Right-back Lowton said: “It’s going well at the minute. He came third on debut behind a very, very good horse who’s won a few times since, and won a couple of weeks ago at Chester.
“Jack and Chris are very big on it and they just offered it out to the lads basically that they were going to start a little syndicate up and if we want to get involved we can.
“It was more for the days out, keeping lads together. Vokesy’s involved who’s not here so it was more of a long-term plan, so if lads do end up moving on that we still keep in contact. It was good to get all the lads together and their families.”
Lowton had an interest in horse racing anyway, and he said: “It’s enjoyable. I’ve learned a lot more since, going down to the yard and seeing different things that they do. It’s quite interesting to see how they work day to day.”
Things are going well on the pitch as well as on the turf for Burnley, who won their opening game against Southampton 3-0 before losing narrowly to Arsenal last weekend.
This weekend they travel to Molineux to face Wolves, who are in the same position as Burnley 12 months ago having started their season early for the qualifying rounds of the Europa League.
The Clarets struggled to recover from the effects all season, fighting a relegation battle before ultimately finishing 15th.
Wolves had a hard-fought win away to Torino on Thursday, and Lowton hopes Burnley can take advantage of any fatigue.
“It is difficult,” he said. “It was a new thing to us all. We enjoyed it but it does play on you and ultimately I think it did show that we were not where we wanted to be as a squad.
“We’ll be looking to make sure we make Wolves feel like that at the weekend. We know what it’s like travelling and fitting training in and things like that so it’s up to us to step on and make it difficult for them.
“This time we’ve had a full pre-season. The lads are strong and sharp and ready to go and I think it’s showed the first couple of games that we’re right on it and ready to push up the league again this year.”