Tag Archive for: Wolverhampton

Dixon unlikely to forget chaotic events at Wolverhampton in a hurry

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The rules state horses are automatically withdrawn if they complete the course after the false start flag is waved, meaning all eight horses that crossed the line could not then partake in the rerun of the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.”



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Nine Tenths takes possession of Lady Wulfruna title

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.”



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Hannon issues Wolverhampton warning for Shouldvebeenaring

Richard Hannon possesses a strong hand in Saturday’s BetMGM Lady Wulfruna Stakes at Wolverhampton – but stresses Group One performer Shouldvebeenaring will not be in optimum condition for his seasonal reappearance.

Owned by Middleham Park Racing, the four-year-old sets a clear standard on what he achieved last season, finishing the campaign by placing in top tier events both at Haydock and ParisLongchamp.

He drops to Listed level for his return to action, but with many big days and a long summer ahead of him, Hannon has warned the mount of Sean Levey will not be fully tuned up for his Dunstall Park appearance.

Shouldvebeenaring could return at Wolverhampton
Shouldvebeenaring in action on the all-weather (Richard Sellers/PA)

Hannon said: “He’s going to need it badly, it is going to be quite a busy year for him and we’re just giving him a run to get him ready for some of the bigger races later in the year.

“He’ll enjoy having a run round there and he might still win, but I imagine he will improve massively on this whatever he does.”

Hannon has won this race twice in the last four years and is also represented by 2021 champion Mums Tipple, who although well held after meeting trouble in running at Lingfield recently, is expected to come on for the run in the hands of Hollie Doyle.

“Mums Tipple has had the advantage of having a run and he won’t be far away, he’s working great,” continued Hannon.

Mums Tipple is a proven operator at the level
Mums Tipple is a proven operator at the level (Nigel French/PA)

While both Shouldvebeenaring and Mums Tipple are proven performers, Geoff Oldroyd’s Doctor Khan Junior is very much taking a step into the unknown on his first try in Pattern company.

Proven in the West Midlands, the five-year-old is unbeaten in his last four outings – all on the all-weather – and his handler feels there is no better time than the present to test the waters at a higher level.

“He just keeps progressing and we’ve got to the stage now where he is rated 99 and it is probably going to be hard in handicaps,” explained Oldroyd.

“There aren’t that many races around for him at the moment, so we’re just going to pop him up into a Listed race and see how we get on.

“He likes Wolverhampton and comes alive around there, so while he’s healthy and in good nick, it’s probably a good time to find out if he is good enough to go up in that grade.”

Another attempting to make her mark at this level is Nine Tenths, who has always been a consistent performer for trainer William Haggas and owners St Albans Bloodstock and having gained black type when second to Dear My Friend at Lingfield last month, will now bid to go one better.

“She’s quite lightly raced for a four-year-old but she has been very consistent and I think she has only been out of the first four once in her career to date,” said the owners’ racing manager Richard Brown.

“She got her black type last time which is important and she looks to have a fair chance of getting some more. Whether that is winning black type though, I don’t know and we will find out.

“Richard Hannon’s horse will be hard to beat on the ratings, but she’s fit and well and ready to go and we’ve obviously got William (Buick) on board which is always a great help. We’re hoping for a big run and she goes there match fit, which we hope will give us some bit of advantage.”

Course-and-distance winners Misty Grey (David O’Meara) and Intervention (Mick Appleby) complete the sextet heading to post for this seven-furlong feature.



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Fanning ‘fine’ but facing brief layoff after Wolverhampton KO

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.



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Bookmakers report steady start for first Sunday evening fixture

Bookmakers have reported turnover on Sunday evening’s historic meeting at Wolverhampton “on a par” with a typical midweek all-weather fixture.

Racing took place at Dunstall Park as the first of six trial meetings scheduled on Sunday evenings through the winter, in an attempt to boost racing’s finances through increased contribution from bookmakers to the Levy.

The card featured strong numerical fields and enhanced prize-money with a minimum of £15,000 per race, with most races run for almost three times the minimum value for their respective grade.

However, concerns remain about the well-being of the participants and winning jockeys Callum Shepherd and Robert Havlin both spoke out against the trial but felt they would lose rides in the future if they did not take part.

Coral spokesperson David Stevens said: “New initiatives such as this should always be given time to bed-in, and this first meeting was up against a big FA Cup match live on terrestrial TV (Arsenal versus Liverpool), which would have had an impact, but overall it was a very solid start, with turnover on a par with a typical evening meeting.”

Betfred’s Matt Hulmes offered a similar assessment, saying: “We took what we would normally expect on an evening all-weather meeting – it was our best performing Wolverhampton meeting of the week, but you would expect that to be the case given the increased prize-money.

“It was broadly what we take at most evening all-weather meetings, but it was the second-highest turnover meeting on the all-weather last week.”

Paddy Power painted a brighter picture, with the firm’s Paul Binfield saying the new meeting was among their best staking fixtures of the week.

He said: “The new Sunday evening fixture performed really well with competitive fields of more than 11 runners and an average favourite SP of more than 2-1.

“The card was in our top five highest-staking fixtures of the week with a double-figure stakes increase on the average Wolverhampton card over the last three months.”

Wolverhampton is part of Arena Racing Company and their group operations director Mark Spincer told Sky Sports Racing on Sunday a view would be taken after all six of the trial meetings had taken place.

“As a group we decided Sunday night could be an area that would drive Levy, it gives us opportunity to own an area – when I say ‘us’, I’m talking about the all-weather tracks – that currently doesn’t have a huge amount of sport in which could mean increased turnover, which means better Levy and overall better financial performance,” said Spincer.

“I can only speak for ARC tracks and from our point of view, whatever public we get we want to accommodate. I think there’s a nice crowd, probably 6/700 being a part of history.

“I think we need to try new things, things take time to grow, look at the Racing League or Good Friday, things take time to get established, last year’s Racing League was our best attendance, Good Friday was a record attendance last year as well.

“Can we make something of the Sunday evenings? I’m sure we can at some point remembering that there are six, it’s a trial and then we pull up stumps and everybody looks at how well it has performed or not performed and then decisions will be made on the future. I’m not prepared to make any comments past six because it’s agreed as a trial and that is exactly what we are in.”

Richard Wayman, chief operating officer at the British Horseracing Authority, said one of the main aims of Sunday racing was to help grow interest in British racing.

“One of the things we are trying to do as part of the Industry Strategy is to try to grow interest in racing and grow the number of people who follow the sport,” he said.

“We’ve got various workstreams in relation to the fixture list which are designed to try to achieve that. Make more of the big stuff on a Saturday through Premierisation and we want to improve the quality of Sunday racing and through listening to our colleagues in the betting industry, who have told us there is significant growth in the amounts of money being bet generally on a Sunday evening, (we are staging the trial).

“What we don’t know at this stage is the appetite for betting on British racing on a Sunday evening, so the purpose of the six trial meetings is just to try to ascertain what demand there is. These six fixtures will tell us what the demand is.

“Callum’s comments are perfectly understandable as this does put a lot of strain on those people servicing the fixtures such as jockeys, trainers, stable staff, our own staff, the racecourse staff servicing those fixtures as there are a lot of people involved in putting a race meeting on, so as part of the trial we will get feedback from all of those people.

“At the end of those six fixtures we’ll take a view on whether this is something we should be thinking about long term or not, but only by trying it can we make that decision.

“The betting industry will make the figures available to the BHA and we have set targets. We’d like to see these meetings outperform a regular all-weather night meeting by 15-20 per cent, even if it does do that it doesn’t necessarily mean it will carry on.”

The next Sunday evening fixture is scheduled for Chelmsford on January 21.



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Simcock and Shepherd claim slice of history at Wolverhampton

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.

Wolverhampton hosted the first Sunday evening floodlit meeting
Wolverhampton hosted the first Sunday evening floodlit meeting (David Davies/PA)

“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.”



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Huntingdon finally succumbs to heavy rain

Today’s meeting at Huntingdon has been abandoned following flooding of the course last night.

The Peterborough Chase card survived inspections on Thursday and Friday but the Cambridgeshire track could not cope with further rain.

This afternoon’s fixture at Kelso was called off yesterday due to excess rainfall and areas of false ground.

That leaves Britain without a Sunday National Hunt meeting, although there will be Flat racing on Wolverhampton’s all-weather circuit.

Over in Ireland, Cork will stage a high-class jumps card featuring three Graded races, including the reappearance of El Fabiolo in the Bar One Racing Hilly Way Chase.



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Scott Dixon hoping Southwell not out of action for too long

Scott Dixon does not envisage being away from his Southwell racecourse base for long after flooding forced the handler to dramatically relocate his horses to Wolverhampton.

The trainer operates out of yards at both all-weather tracks but was left with the challenge of moving 40 of his horses as his Southwell facility bore the brunt of Storm Babet.

Having successfully shifted his Southwell string across the midlands to Dunstall Park, Dixon is eager to catch his breath before contemplating a return to the Nottinghamshire venue.

Dixon saddles plenty of runners on Southwell's all-weather track
Dixon saddles plenty of runners on Southwell’s all-weather track (Simon Marper/PA)

“Our yard at Southwell is totally and utterly clear of water and the water level receded pretty quickly,” explained Dixon.

“We’ll just take a deep breath, let the horses settle, and the horse’s who are due to be running at Wolverhampton during this busy month or two will naturally stop there.

“We’ve got a bit of a clean-up process at Southwell and when we move back there will all depend on when the track is back in action, which will be sooner rather than later I would have thought.

“It will be a moving timescale and we will take it day by day and we’ll be moving some of the horses back as soon as we can use the track for exercise.”

Dixon is thankful he is in the unique position of having stabling facilities to operate out of both Southwell and Wolverhampton, which meant he simply had to beat the rising water overflowing from the nearby River Greet rather than worry about what location a majority of his string could be transported to.

He added: “For now we’re absolutely fine where we are and thank goodness we are in a bit of a unique situation anyway in that we’ve got two yards.

“We’ve got Southwell and Wolverhampton and if we didn’t have that then getting 40 horses relocated to somewhere that has the facilities to exercise are few and far between.

“The important thing is all the horses are absolutely fine and all the staff are also absolutely fine.

Trainer Scott Dixon has hailed the efforts of his staff
Trainer Scott Dixon has hailed the efforts of his staff (Mike Egerton/PA)

“All animals and people are fine and the horses have dealt with it remarkably well, they have all eaten up and trotted up fine out on the track at Wolverhampton and we’ve managed to get every single horse out who was supposed to go out today.

“We’re keeping the show on the road and we’ve got multiple runners at Wolverhampton and we are just kicking on.”

The trainer has also hailed the efforts of his staff and the assistance of those nearby as the they pulled together to escape a potentially dangerous situation unscathed.

“Credit goes both to my team and some of the guys still at the racecourse and various people who came to help us during the whole process,” said Dixon.

“It’s less than ideal but you have just got to get your sensible head on and figure it out and as always the priority is always the horses and the people and the animals. We pulled it together and got it done.”

The fixtures at Southwell on October 26, October 30, November 2 and November 4 have been abandoned.



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Racing League all set for final night battle between top two

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.”



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O’Neill set to undergo surgery but full recovery expected

Jockey Dane O’Neill is expected to make a full recovery despite sustaining fractured vertebrae and ribs in a fall at Wolverhampton on Tuesday.

The veteran rider was taken to hospital after a fall from Eagle Eyed Tom in the opening race.

The gelding, trained by Charlie Hills, appeared to stumble and clip heels when leaving the stalls in the Sky Sports Racing Sky 415 Handicap, unseating him.

The race was abruptly stopped and voided, while O’Neill was attended to by paramedics on the track before being stretchered off and taken to hospital.

An update on the Facebook account of O’Neill’s wife Laura, read: “Following his fall at Wolverhampton, Dane was treated on the track before being transported by the racecourse ambulance to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

“He had a prompt assessment including scans where a fractured thoracic vertebra and some fractured ribs were discovered.

“Dane is likely to have surgery in the next few days and the expectation is he will make a full recovery after a period of rehabilitation.”

The post added: “Dane and his wife Laura would like to thank the medical staff for their care and are grateful for all the best wishes received from his friends and colleagues in racing.”

O’Neill is a key member of the Shadwell operation and racing manager Angus Gold was relieved about the prognosis.

He said: “That’s fantastic. That’s the only important bit – that he makes a full recovery.

“From our point of view, you hate to see that happen to anybody, but from a Shadwell perspective, he is a huge part of our operation.

“We are certainly going to notice his absence very strongly, but all that matters is that he gets better.

“We just wish him the speediest of recoveries and hope they operate soon, and get him back on track.

“As long as he’s all right, that’s all we care about – and we can’t wait to get him back as soon as he is mended.”

O’Neill has ridden 23 winners in Britain so far in 2023 and landed two Group One races at Meydan earlier this year, including Danyah in the Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night.

“He is a massive part of the operation, not just on the racecourse, but he rides a lot of work, all around Lambourn for us in particular, and is hugely helpful to all of us,” Gold added.

“He has a good relationship with (head of Shadwell) Sheikha Hissa, and obviously she is very concerned about him. Hopefully, it will all go smoothly for him and we all send him our best wishes.”



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Race voided at Wolverhampton following fall for Dane O’Neill

Dane O’Neill has been taken to hospital for further assessment after his fall from Eagle Eyed Tom in the opening race of Wolverhampton’s Tuesday card caused the contest to be voided.

The gelding, who is trained by Charlie Hills, seemed to stumble and clip heels when leaving the stalls for the Sky Sports Racing Sky 415 Handicap and unseated O’Neill in the first few moments of the contest.

The race was stopped abruptly before it could be completed and O’Neill was attended to on the track before being taken off on a stretcher.

There was an 11-minute delay to the following race, the Follow @AtTheRaces On Twitter Fillies’ Novice Stakes, as O’Neill was taken to hospital for further assessment.

Fergus Cameron, clerk of the course at Wolverhampton, said: “Dane sustained a fall after leaving the stalls in the first race, which was then voided.

“He was treated on track by our paramedics and was conscious throughout. He was then taken in an ambulance to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for further assessment.”

The stewards inquired into the incident and their report said: “The clerk of the course and the jockeys who had ridden in the race excluding Dane O’Neill, were interviewed.

“The clerk of the course explained that as the injured jockey was being attended to on the course in the home straight, and that it was not possible for the rest of the field to safely pass, the decision was made in conjunction with the head groundsman to initiate the ‘stop race’ procedure and deploy the ‘stop race’ flag. The stewards declared the race void.”

The next race on the card was won by Richard Hughes’ Value Added, owned by the King and Queen and ridden by William Buick.

The three-year-old was the 11-8 favourite and duly delivered when making almost all of the running to score by a length.

“We’ve always liked her but we’ve had one or two issue with the stalls,” Hughes told Sky Sports Racing.

“The last day she ran a good race at Windsor, it doesn’t suit all of them and she was a little bit lairy.

“She went around today lovely and I loved the way he kicked on her and she opened up, that’s important.

“I just loved the way she quickened today, she got her head down and she ran to the line good.”



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Berkshire Shadow claims Wulfruna win

Berkshire Shadow bounced back to form and set up a potential trip to Newcastle on Good Friday with a stylish success in the Spreadex Sports Lady Wulfruna Stakes at Wolverhampton.

Winner of the prestigious Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2021, he went winless last season but was not disgraced in either the 2000 Guineas or the St James’s Palace Stakes.

He never quite hit the expected heights afterwards but Andrew Balding was convinced the son of Dark Angel was returning to something like his best.

Reunited with Oisin Murphy, the now gelded Berkshire Shadow (5-2 favourite) travelled sweetly throughout and hit the front a long way from home.

Harry’s Bar and Angel Bleu gave chase in vain, but Berkshire Shadow held on by a length and a quarter, with Ralph Beckett’s Angel Bleu gaining second on the line.

“It was a very good race, Angel Bleu is a top-class horse, they’ve met before,” Murphy told Sky Sports Racing.

“It’s brilliant to get the horse back, it’s great to see him get a Listed win and hopefully he’ll build on it.

“He’s trained really well. He’s a Dark Angel so has plenty of size and scope and we always felt he wasn’t just a two-year-old. His run in the Guineas last year was fantastic so it’s great to get back to winning ways.

“I haven’t discussed anything with Andrew but perhaps he could have a run on Good Friday, the horse is in very good form. It’s great for the owner too.”

Owner Paul Spickett confirmed Good Friday and Finals Day would now be the plan, adding: “He’s been a super horse. He had a few niggles last year but Andrew said he was going well.

“He’s definitely got the ability. The Coventry would have done me in truth, if he never won another race, but he’s shown he’s still got the ability. Roll on Good Friday.

“There’s a lot of options for him now. They went quick today and when he came off the last bend he had it won.”



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Alrehb streaks to Lincoln Trial victory

Alrehb defied a career-high mark to get the better of Unforgotten in the Spreadex Sports Lincoln Trial Handicap at Wolverhampton.

Trained by Kevin Philippart de Foy, the grey had won last time out at Southwell but had been raised 4lb for that half-length success.

The 5-1 shot looked up against it when John and Thady Gosden’s 11-4 favourite Unforgotten hit the front a furlong out in his bid for a fourth successive victory – but Alrehb had other ideas.

Delivered with a perfectly timed challenge by the red-hot Danny Muscutt, he went on to win by half a length, with last year’s winner Notre Belle Bette back in third.

Paddy Power cut the winner to 14-1 from 20s for the Lincoln at Doncaster on April 1.

Muscutt told Sky Sports Racing: “There’s always a lot of speed in this race and it was a bit messy the first 50 yards but I ended up in a lovely spot and found a really nice rhythm.

“He’s really stepped up his game since he’s gone up to the mile and Kevin has his horses in super form. He actually beat me at Southwell so it’s nice to get on him today.

“I don’t see any reason why he can’t win on turf, he’s quite a big horse to be going around these tight turns. His action suggests he should be fine on turf.

“I think it’s either the Lincoln or the Spring Cup next. I think the weather will decide where he goes.”

Dubai Station (17-2), having just his second start for Stuart Williams, won the Huge Daily Boosts Only BetUK Handicap.

Previously with Robert Cowell, Dubai Station had finished fifth over five furlongs on his stable debut and upped to six furlongs Rossa Ryan brough him home to win by half a length.

Ryan said: “I won a nice race on him at Chelmsford and he’s just gone to Stuart’s.

“The form of his last race stacked up well, he had a nice gallop to aim at and it worked out well. He’s a proper handicapper, he’ll always run well in them and the odd one will fall his way.”

Earlofthecotswolds was a brave winner for Tom Queally
Earlofthecotswolds was a brave winner for Tom Queally (Jonathan Hipkiss)

Earlofthecotswolds (6-1) gave himself the perfect preparation in defence of his All-Weather Marathon title on Finals Day at Newcastle when prevailing in a blanket finish for the SCU Selects Expert Tips At BetUK Conditions Stakes.

Tom Queally set out to make all but looked a sitting duck as Roberto Escobarr, Calling The Wind and Fleurman all closed in on him but he held them off.

It was Fleurman who got closest to Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge, beaten a head, with a neck back to the odds-on favourite Roberto Escobarr.

“Earlofthecotswolds is a good horse with a lot of ability. They want him there for Finals Day and it is good that he got to win again,” said Queally.

“I ride a lot of Nigel’s on the Flat but I was suspended a couple of years ago and Liam Keniry took the ride. Admittedly, I am just getting used to the horse and probably did not go fast enough the last day, whereas today I did. I wanted to fill his lungs at crucial stages and that seemed to give him an edge at the end.

“Nigel only runs a few on the Flat but he has a magnificent strike rate. It would be great if they gave him a few more Flat horses.”



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Gosdens looking to see Unforgotten put his name up in lights

Unforgotten has the chance to extend his winning run when he goes for the Spreadex Sports Lincoln Trial Handicap at Wolverhampton.

Second in his first two outings, John and Thady Gosden’s son of Exceed And Excel got off the mark at at the third attempt at Newcastle in April 2021 but then had to sit out almost two years with a setback.

Returning from 659 days off the track he made up for lost time at Lingfield last month and then doubled up 14 days later at the same venue.

He now searches for the quick-fire hat-trick off a 4lb higher rating when he heads to Dunstall Park on Saturday, with a good run potentially setting up a crack at the Lincoln itself at Doncaster on the opening day of the Flat season on April 1.

“He obviously had a couple of issues and had plenty of time off, but he’s a horse we have always liked and have always known he has plenty of talent,” said joint-trainer Thady Gosden.

“He’s run a couple of nice races since coming back and hopefully he can perform to a similar level at the weekend.”

Last year’s winner Notre Belle Bete will attempt to defend his crown off an 8lb higher mark and Andrew Balding’s five-year-old is 3lb higher than when going close at Lingfield in his most recent outing.

“He won the race last year and has been pretty consistent and a decent operator on the all-weather,” said the Kingsclere handler.

“He was unlucky at Lingfield last time and hopefully this will give him the opportunity to be there or thereabouts.”

Outbreak got the better of Notre Belle Bete last time out and Charlie Johnston’s runner is 5lb higher for the rematch, while other notable runners include the consistent Alrehb and Mick Appleby’s track specialist War In Heaven, who has won four in a row at Dunstall Park since the start of the year.

Olly Murphy’s course and distance winner Fleurman will attempt to seal a three-timer in the SCU Selects Expert Tips At BetUK Conditions Stakes over at touch more than two miles.

The race serves as a Fast-Track Qualifier for All-Weather Championships Finals Day and the winner will earn a spot at Newcastle on Good Friday.

Earlofthecotswolds picked up that pot at Gosforth Park in 2022 and is one of five looking to book their ticket to the north east over Easter, with Roberto Escobarr another notable name amongst the quintet.

Brian Ellison’s Onesmoothoperator switches back from hurdles, with Richard Hughes’ Calling The Wind rounding off those taking part.



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Angel Bleu out to stamp his class in Lady Wulfruna

Angel Bleu sets the standard in the Spreadex Sports Lady Wulfruna Stakes at Wolverhampton on Saturday.

Ralph Beckett’s four-year-old has won twice at Group One level as a juvenile and has won five of his 11 career appearances to date, finishing placed on another three occasions and only out of the money three times.

Two of those performances have come at Royal Ascot while the only other small blot on an otherwise decorated copybook was when fifth to Baaeed in the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood ran on conditions unfavourable to the son of Dark Angel.

That was the last time Angel Bleu has been sighted on a racecourse and although initially underwhelmed by the performance, Jamie McCalmont – racing manager to owner Marc Chan – believes in hindsight, finishing within five lengths of Baaeed was perfectly respectable.

He said: “His last start was on ground that he doesn’t really like and to be beaten only four and a half lengths by Baaeed when he was definitely at the top of his game – we didn’t think much of it on the day, but when you look at it now, you think, ‘that’s not embarrassing’.

“He came out of that race with an injury and the only two bad races he has run have been at Royal Ascot – every other time he has fired.

“He just needs some match practice and hopefully he gets back on track on Saturday. It’s a long time since he has run and you just don’t know, but you go there with the horse in good shape and we’re looking forward to a good run and a big season with him.”

Angel Bleu’s biggest danger could be Andrew Balding’s Berkshire Shadow, who shaped nicely in both the 2000 Guineas and at Royal Ascot last year before his form tailed off in the heart of summer.

Royal Ascot 2021 – Day One
Berkshire Shadow ridden by jockey Oisin Murphy wins the Coventry Stakes during day one of Royal Ascot in 2021

The 2021 Coventry Stakes winner played second fiddle to Angel Bleu in their only ever meeting at this distance, the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood later that year, but his Kingsclere handler is hoping for a different outcome if his charge handles Dunstall Park.

“He ran really well in the Guineas and the St James’s Palace Stakes last season but lost his way a bit after that,” said Balding.

“He’s been gelded over the winter and we’ve been very happy with his work and hopefully he should have a good season.

“If he takes to Wolverhampton then he will be a player. He won a Coventry over six furlongs so I don’t think the trip should be a problem, but whether that is a problem on a sharp track we will find out.”

Dhabab was a handy performer for John and Thady Gosden at two and was sent off 4-1 favourite for the Coventry Berkshire Shadow won before running with credit in both the Superlative Stakes and Mill Reef later that year.

A setback meant he missed the majority of the 2022 campaign before returning to win at Lingfield in October and although well held up at a mile in Listed company last time out, he may put his speed to good use now returned to seven furlongs.

“He had a setback last year but has seemed in good form since,” said Thady Gosden.

“He obviously ran well at Lingfield when winning on his first run back last year and then stepped up to Listed level afterwards.

“He has been training pleasingly at home and this looks the right race for him. He’s by No Nay Never and has always showed plenty of speed. Hopefully seven furlongs is an ideal trip for him.”

Irish handler Adrian McGuinness is no stranger to successful raids on the all-weather and he is double-handed with synthetics specialist Harry’s Bar and improving mare Hodd’s Girl.

He said: “There are not a lot of opportunities for Harry’s Bar in Ireland at this time of the year and he is a real all-weather specialist, so we have to travel.

“In fairness, Wolverhampton is not that far from me. It is three and a bit hours of driving plus a boat trip, so it is not too bad.

Ado McGuinness saddles two in the Lady Wulfruna Stakes at Wolverhampton on Saturday
Ado McGuinness saddles two in the Lady Wulfruna Stakes at Wolverhampton on Saturday (PA)

“The horse is in great order and I think the seven furlongs around Wolverhampton will suit. I would not be sure on a straight seven but going seven around a bend should play to his strengths.

“We are trying to sneak a bit of black type with Hodd’s Girl. She has not stopped improving since she came to us and her work is very good. I would not be surprised if she was able to make the frame.”

Roger Varian’s defending champion Tinker Toy, Lingfield runner-up Vadream (Charlie Fellowes) and Jump The Gun (Iain Jardine) complete the line up.



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