Scott Dixon was left to reflect on what for him proved an “incredibly strange” last race at Wolverhampton on Monday night, where only two runners eventually lined up after a false start.

The stalls did not seem to open when the starter’s flag fell in the closing Download The Racecourse App Raceday Ready Handicap but then released moments later, causing the starter to wave his flag to signal a false start.

By that point the horses were already a stride or two into the seven-furlong race and though the call to pull up appeared to spread fairly quickly, that was easier said than done for many of the riders.

Sue Gardner’s Kimifive and Dixon’s Mudlahhim were already locking horns and several other horses were reluctant to stop behind them.

The rules state horses are automatically withdrawn if they complete the course after the false start flag is waved, meaning all eight horses that crossed the line could not then partake in the rerun of the race. Oriental Spirit’s trainer Stuart Kittow decided not to take part after his horse ran keenly before being pulled up near the line, adding to earlier non-runner Captain Wentworth.

Eventually only two horses lined up for the delayed running, with Dixon’s other runner A Pint Of Bear losing out by three-quarters of a length to an old stablemate in John O’Shea’s Rose Fandango.

“It was an incredibly rare situation, from what I can gather the stalls didn’t open when they pressed the button,” Dixon said.

“I’ve watched the race back and I think it was all of them, it wasn’t a select few.

“The rule is if you cross the line you’re out and there were some horses that just couldn’t pull up and one of those was definitely mine.

“I had two runners, I had Mudlahhim and A Pint Of Bear. Mudlahhim is an unbelievably keen horse in his home work and he can be in his races. He just thought he was in a race.

“When my assistant and I saw what happened we both looked at each other and said there was zero chance of getting him back before the finishing line.

“Ultimately that’s what happened, him and another horse did another circuit and they were just taking each other on which wasn’t helping matters.”

The matter has been forwarded to the British Horseracing Authority for review after all riders, the starters, the starting stalls team leader, clerk of the course Fergus Cameron and others were interviewed and shown recordings of the incident.

“It was just incredibly strange, and to make it even stranger for me was that the horse we ended up in a match race with, Rose Fandango, I used to train,” Dixon added.

“His last win was with me, so it got even weirder! I ran down to the start and saw A Pint Of Bear myself to make sure he was all right.

“Phil (Dennis, jockey) and I thought he was fine and he was looked at by the vet and he was all good to go.

“It’s not going to be ideal for any of them but he was 100 per cent fine to run, we made the decision to let him have a go and sadly for us we lost the match race.

“All the horses were fine and all the jockeys were fine and that’s all that matters, really.

“It seems like it was a mechanical fault, which ultimately can just happen, and even human error is always going to happen occasionally.

“It’s just one of those things, you’ve got to feel sorry for people with horses that couldn’t run – they have spent the money and taken the time to go, it is very unfortunate but it is just one of those things.”

Nine Tenths continued to demonstrate her ability with a smart success in the BetMGM Lady Wulfruna Stakes at Wolverhampton.

William Haggas’ four-year-old has been faring well on the all-weather over the winter, winning over course and distance on debut before finishing second in both a Newcastle handicap and the Listed Tandridge Stakes at Lingfield.

She was the only filly in a field of six on her return to Wolverhampton and started as the 15-8 favourite under William Buick.

After allowing others to make the running, she pounced on the turn for home and pulled clear of her rivals to prevail by a length and a quarter, leaving Misty Grey in second and Shouldvebeenaring in third place.

“She did everything right there, seven furlongs is probably her trip and she won very well,” Buick told Sky Sports Racing.

“She tries hard, I’m impressed.

“She looked a picture beforehand and she had race fitness on her side, she was very fluent throughout the race – very smooth and relaxed.”

Kingdom Come overcame a slow start to land the BetMGM Lincoln Trial Handicap.

Clive Cox’s five-year-old was partnered by Rossa Ryan and started as the 11-4 favourite after two good runs on the all-weather so far this year, including finishing third behind Dear My Friend at Lingfield last time out.

The gelding rocked backwards in his stall at the start of the contest, however, briefly unbalancing himself and Ryan.

They began the race on the back foot as a result, but Ryan did not panic and weaved through the field to find a more competitive position.

In the the final half-furlong he hit the front and held off the challenging Final Voyage to prevail by a head.

“He has tended to be slow out of the gates, my plan was to jump and go forward and let the pace from out wide come across and get in but it didn’t work,” Ryan said.

“I punted round, I had the horse when I needed him.

“Clive’s held this lad in high regard all the time, always has done, the middle of the season last year didn’t go to plan for him.

“He’s got back on track, I think we would have given Dear My Friend a proper race last time but we went so slow.

“The draw didn’t help and he has to drop in because he’s keen, but Clive has a plan with him this year and he’s really developing into a lovely horse.

“I think when he gets on a bit of fast ground, he’ll be a happy horse.”

Joe Fanning is set for a short spell on the sidelines after being knocked out in a fall at Wolverhampton on Monday night that led to three-time champion jockey Oisin Murphy being hit with a nine-day ban.

Fanning and his mount Sennockian passed the post a nose in front of the Murphy-ridden Dr Foster in an extended one-mile handicap at Dunstall Park, but was unseated just after the winning line.

The 53-year-old regained consciousness prior to leaving the track, but was taken to hospital for precautionary tests before later returning home.

“Joe is fine. He had precautionary scans on his head and everything at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton and they came back clear,” said his agent Niall Hannity.

“He got home late last night and I spoke to him this morning and he is fine.

“I’m not sure how long he’ll be out for. He’ll have to pass a baseline concussion test and it will be up to Dr Jerry Hill when he’ll be able to take that.

“We’ll see how he is in the next day or two, but he obviously won’t be riding this weekend or next week, I wouldn’t have thought.”

A stewards’ enquiry was called to consider the placings after several incidents of interference in the home straight.

The stewards ruled that Fanning had not committed any riding offences and that the placings should remain unaltered, but Murphy was found guilty of careless riding.

A stewards’ report read: “Murphy was suspended for nine days as he allowed his mount to drift approximately two horse widths right-handed away from the whip causing interference to Sennockian, before then using the whip again in the left hand whereupon his mount shifted further right-handed causing interference to Sennockian, with Fanning being unseated after the line.”

Murphy will be out of action on March 11 and 12 and from March 18 to 24, meaning he is set to miss the first weekend of the British Flat turf season at Doncaster.

Callum Shepherd questioned the need for Sunday evening racing after his mount Charlie’s Choice entered the record books as a new era for British racing began under the lights at Wolverhampton.

Floodlit all-weather meetings on a Sunday evening are being trialled throughout the winter as part of the British Horseracing Authority’s wide-range of initiatives to improve the sport, with the enhanced prize-money incentives on offer attracting a bumper field of entrants to Dunstall Park.

Eleven went to post for the opening Find More Big Deals At BetUK Handicap and it was David Simcock’s Charlie’s Choice (3-1) who came home best in the hands of Shepherd to score by three-quarters of a length.

Shepherd was booked for four mounts on the Wolverhampton card, with his final ride scheduled for the last race of the day at 8.30pm, and after claiming the opener, he voiced his opinion on Sunday racing.

“It would be nice if it wasn’t a Sunday evening,” Shepherd told Sky Sports Racing.

“We don’t need to be here on a Sunday evening. I think in the summer, during peak season, you accept it is part and parcel and jump racing can facilitate Sunday racing throughout the winter as we do through the summer.

“Bar the festive period, I don’t think there is any great need for Sunday racing and certainly not Sunday evening racing.

“We might get a couple of hundred quid extra in our pockets, but I don’t think it is healthy.

“I want to be able to go watch football with my dad and things like that and if this becomes a regular thing – which it will – you just cross that brink between having absolutely no work-life balance and I don’t think that is right.

“My desire to ride winners and my desire to ride for David outweighs that, and it has to as a rider with the dedication it requires, it is not an option not to come. So I will always be available. But I don’t think I should be here at 8.30pm on a Sunday night.”

Adam Azim believes Franck Petitjean is in “massive trouble” ahead of their super-lightweight bout as the Slough fighter sends a verbal warning to the European champion.

The unbeaten 9-0-0 Azim looks to claim European gold when he faces off with the French Petitjean on Saturday after an impressive points victory over tough Ukrainian Aram Fanyan in September.

And the 21-year-old believes his powerful shot selection will be a nightmare for his opponent who “is in for a shock” when the pair meet in Wolverhampton.

“He’s in massive trouble, he’s either getting outscored or he’s going to sleep,” Azim told the PA News agency.

“In some of his interviews he said he’ll be a nightmare for me. He isn’t going to be no nightmare because when he wakes up all the nightmares will be real when I’m the one coming at him.

“He’s in for a shock.

“I’m going to be patient with my shots but I’m looking for the knockout, that’s what I’m after. I’m going to box his head off and let him walk into my shots.

“He’ll see what I’m made of.

“He’ll try and fight me on the inside but I can also fight inside and that’s something he does not know and once he feels my power and speed in the early rounds he definitely won’t come forward after that.”

The 35-year-old Petitjean reclaimed his European super-lightweight belt with a majority decision win over Samuel Molina in June.

And Azim talked up the importance of the bout, saying it is a must win and that he is going to make a massive statement to the rest of the division.

He said: “He has won the European title but I’m going to take it off him. I’ve been after that European title for a very long time and this is my opportunity to take it with both hands.

“The European title is a massive thing for me. I want it really bad.

“It’s a must win. I’m putting everything into this fight and I want to make a massive statement in the last fight of the year.”

Azim highlighted how European champion status could springboard his reputation to a world class level but insisted he has to take care of Petitjean first.

He said: “People see me as a high class fighter and I will get there at one stage. Hopefully that European title will set me at a world class level. I’ve got a job to do first.

“I could say that I’m up there (with the division’s best) but I have got to win the European title first and then hopefully next year I’ll be there.”

Azim takes on Petitjean on November 18, live on Sky Sports.

This year’s Racing League is set for a fascinating conclusion after Wales & The West just about maintained top spot from Ireland.

Jamie Osborne’s defending champions have been blazing a trail throughout, but the Kevin Blake-managed Irish outfit enjoyed a good night at Newcastle last week and that was the case again at Wolverhampton on Thursday, with just the finale at Southwell on Wednesday to come.

Wales & The West led by 568 points to 496 heading into the fifth week at Dunstall Park, but by the end of play that was down to just two points (666 to 664).

After solid placed efforts in the opening few races, Ireland hit the jackpot with the Billy Loughnane-ridden, George Boughey-trained Koy Koy in race four – a win that also put crack apprentice Loughnane on 94 career winners, just one away from losing his claim.

Race five looked like going to Ireland, too, as Naxos and Dylan Browne McMonagle went for home, only to be swamped by Freddy Larson aboard Rebecca Menzies’ Painters Palette for Mick Quinn’s North team.

Even better for Quinn was that he played a joker, one that rewarded his squad with 70 points from the race.

Blake’s confidence seemed to be riding high for race six, as he too played a joker but the well-fancied 9-4 favourite Belgoprince and Loughnane had to settle for fourth place, one in front of another Irish runner, Percy Jones.

But while the points were still doubled for a positive Irish outcome that took them to the summit, Blake did admit to being disappointed the joker did not pay a better dividend, especially as he has no more left to play.

“We had a big chance to stick a nail in Osborne this evening, I feel we’ve only done half a job. When you play a joker you want better than that, so I’m disappointed,” he told Sky Sports Racing.

“Osborne with his two jokers will be tough next week, I don’t think we’ll be much weaker next week – I’ve got a good feeling about next week, I’ve got a bunch of trainers ringing and wanting spots which is exactly what you want.

“If Osborne nails his two jokers, we’re all in trouble, but if he scuffs one…”

The feature event of the night was the concluding William Hill Pick Your Places Racing League Race 35 Handicap, carrying £100,000 in prize-money and which produced success for the Scotland team, with Linda Perratt playing a joker and being rewarded by victory for George Baker’s Get It, ridden by Paul Mulrennan.

It also proved a critical race in the standings, as placed horses for Wales & The West saw them just about back on top, to add to the feeling of what might have been for Blake.

Notable also on a night where Saffie Osborne was not in action in order to be able to take a full book of rides for her father’s team at Southwell, was that McMonagle seized the opportunity to eat into her advantage at the top of the jockeys’ standings.

“I didn’t think I was as close to Saffie as that, I’m creeping up quite nicely,” he said.

“I don’t know if I’ll be able to come over next week, but I’ll take it as it comes.”

Away from the Racing League, McMonagle is looking forward to a big weekend at the Irish Champions Festival, including Joseph O’Brien’s Atlantic Coast in Saturday’s KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes at Leopardstown.

He added: “He’s a lovely colt, he couldn’t really have pleased us more the first day at the Curragh. Also our two-year-olds usually progress from their first runs so what he showed us on his debut was really special. We’ll be confident of a good run, but it’s obviously competitive racing so fingers crossed.”

Wolves have moved swiftly to install Gary O’Neil as Julen Lopetegui’s replacement as head coach.

The 40-year-old, the club’s first British coach in six years, was sacked by Bournemouth in June despite guiding the Cherries to survival.

He has signed a three-year deal after Wolves and Lopetegui came to an “agreement to part ways” on Tuesday after disagreements over recruitment and the direction of the club.

“We’re delighted to welcome Gary to the club,” said sporting director Matt Hobbs.

“He’s a highly-motivated young coach with strong principles and very well thought of by everyone he has worked with, and we’re excited to see what we can achieve together at Wolves.

“Our players have shown their quality during pre-season, and I believe Gary and his team will continue to coach and improve them and will have success working with this group.

“Everyone at Wolves is looking forward to welcoming Gary, offering him their full support and working collaboratively to help the club to keep pushing forward together.”

With just a couple of days until the Premier League season kicks off O’Neil’s first match in charge will be against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Monday.

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