This coming Friday sees the start of the always excellent Breeders’ Cup meeting over in the States, but anyone looking for their fix of top tier flat racing action needn’t look so far afield as Santa Anita. We also have a Group 1 on British shores, as Newcastle steps in to host the rescheduled Vertem Futurity Trophy. This will lend a very different complexion to the race, with the contest now taking place on the all-weather and with a much larger field.
Re-opened on the back of the cancellation at Doncaster last weekend due to the torrential rain that affected much of the country, the rejigged race actually looks a far better renewal, with 12 rather than six going to post, and Aidan O’Brien not having quite such a stranglehold on the contest (he was responsible for five of the original six). With the bigger field and added variable of the Tapeta surface, this certainly looks a more open affair and, from a betting point of view, far more interesting.
Next Race: TBD
The next renewal of this race has not been scheduled yet. We will update this once the schedule has been released for next season. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 1st November 2019
- Winner: Kameko
- SP: 11/2
- Trainer: Andrew Balding
- Jockey: Oisin Murphy
1m is the trip for this Group 1 contest. Set to be run on an all-weather surface for the first (and possibly last!) time ever this year, the race offers £200,000 in total prize money.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Standard||1m||Group 1||£200,000||12 Runners||1/4 1-2|
Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from the last running of the race. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
Aidan O’Brien has landed five of the past 10 renewals of this, and now needs just one more win to draw level with the great Sir Henry Cecil as the most successful trainer in the history of the race. The Ballydoyle supremo certainly looks to have every chance in terms of strength in numbers, with five of the 12 runner field hailing from his yard. He won’t be quite so confident as he would have been ahead of the original scheduling but even so he looks to have a great chance of making history here.
When it comes to jockeys we have another strong trend on display. With four wins in the past six years – for four different trainers – Andrea Atzeni has been the man to follow in the saddle. Renowned as something of a Doncaster specialist, will Atzeni be able to weave his magic further north? Atzeni gets the leg up on big outsider, Royal County Down, this year and whilst he might have had half a chance in South Yorkshire, we aren’t so sure here.
Aside from the jockey and trainer trends, just about the most effective strategy in recent times has been to simply back the market leader here. Successful eight times in the past 10 years, a bet on the jolly has returned a handsome level stakes profit of 13.16pts. Will we see the favourite deliver once again?
MOGUL – 13/8
As mentioned, it is Aidan O’Brien who is the most strongly represented amongst the trainers this year, and of his quintet, the one the market likes best is Mogul. Set to start an odds-on shot for the original version of this race at Doncaster, he wont be quite so short a price here, but does look set to retain his place at the head of the market despite the switch to a synthetic surface.
As with the majority of these, it is the surface which is the major question mark for this regally bred sort. The progeny of his sire, Galileo, don’t boast quite the strike-rate on the all-weather as they do on turf – 14% as opposed to 17% - but it’s hard to say with any certainty that he won’t handle it. A full brother to the talented Japan, and an impressive winner of a Group 2 last time out at Leopardstown, he makes plenty of appeal on paper and seems likely to run well unless the surface proves to be a major factor.
KINROSS – 9/4
The rescheduling of this race has undoubtedly added to its appeal as a spectacle, especially for those wanting to bet on it. One of the main reasons for that is the fact it has now attracted a number of highly promising entries, who aren’t from the yard of O’Brien. The pick of these of these may just prove to be the Ralph Beckett colt, Kinross.
Sired by Kingman – whose progeny boast a very impressive 22% all-weather strike rate - and out of a mare in Ceilidh House who was placed at Listed level on an artificial surface, he seems as likely as any to handle the conditions here.
He may have only raced once so far in his career, but could scarcely have made a more favourable impression in that debut performance at Newmarket. Absolutely tanking along during the race, he pulled eight lengths clear inside the final furlong under only hands and heels riding. With the second placed horse having since gone on to win, the form looks decent enough, and this one falls into the “could be anything” category.
INNISFREE – 11/2
Having already won in Group 2 company on heavy ground, one of the runners most likely to have coped had the race been run in the Town Moor mud last week is Aidan O’Brien’s Innisfree. The comments from connections in the aftermath of that race though suggested that they expected this one to be seen in an even better light on a quicker surface. As such this switch to Tapeta – which is thought to ride similarly to good to firm turf – could be seen as a positive.
Another son of Galileo, and out of a Listed winning mare, this one wouldn’t make quite as much appeal purely on paper as stablemate, Mogul, but there isn’t all that much in it, and we were impressed by the attitude he showed to really stick his neck out close home in that Group 2 at the Curragh last time out.
CHEROKEE TRAIL – 25/1
The Andrew Balding runner Kameko also boasts solid claims, but those looking for an each way option may want to consider John Gosden’s Cherokee Trail. A perfect two from two on a quick surface in Novice company, he was stepped up to Group 3 level for his next assignment in the Autumn Stakes at Newmarket, only to be beaten out of sight.
That run did come on a very soft surface though, and it was pretty clear from an early stage that he wasn’t enjoying it at all. Back under quick conditions, he may just outrun his odds and is sure to attract each way money.
Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes Winners
|2019||Kameko||11/2||Andrew Balding||Oisin Murphy|
|2018||Magna Grecia||2/1||Aidan O’Brien||Donnacha O'Brien|
|2017||Saxon Warrior||13/8||Aidan O’Brien||Ryan Moore|
|2016||Rivet||11/4||William Haggas||Andrea Atzeni|
|2015||Marcel||33/1||Peter Chapple-Hyam||Andrea Atzeni|
|2014||Elm Park||13/8||Andrew Balding||Andrea Atzeni|
|2013||Kingston Hill||7/2||Roger Varian||Andrea Atzeni|
|2012||Kingsbarns||15/8||Aidan O'Brien||Joseph O'Brien|
|2011||Camelot||10/11||Aidan O'Brien||Joseph O'Brien|
|2010||Casamento||2/1||Michael Halford||Frankie Dettori|
For those of you wondering what happened to Doncaster’s Racing Post Trophy, there’s no need to fear. The final Group 1 contest of the flat season remains alive and kicking, merely under a different title: the Vertem Futurity Trophy. The 2017 name change marked the end of a 28 year sponsorship deal with the Racing Post but it’s still very much the same race that has excited Doncaster for decades.
For the two-year-old horses that compete in this one mile race, this is their last moment in the spotlight before the main season draws to a close. Group 1 status and a rich jackpot attracts a high calibre selection of colts, many of which are worth keeping your eye on the following season. Fillies are eligible to compete alongside the boys but incredibly rarely is this the case despite their three pound allowance.
DERBY RECORD A MIXED ONE
Vertem Futurity winners often find themselves featuring in the Epsom Derby, around seventh months after their Doncaster triumph. Since 1986, five winners of this Group 1 race have successfully gone on to secure glory in the English Classic. Although an average of around one double champion every six and a half years is not an overwhelmingly strong trend, it’s certainly one worthy of closer inspection. Recent years paint a mixed picture and also shows that it’s not unusual for Vertem Futruity winners to avoid Epsom’s high-profile contest all together.
VERTEM FUTURITY STAKES WINNERS AT THE DERBY: 2008 TO 2019
|Futurity Stakes Winner (Year)||Derby Finish||Distance Beaten||Odds|
|Saxon Warrior (2017)||4th in 2018||4 ½ lengths||4/5|
|Elm Park (2014)||11th in 2015||20 lengths||9/1|
|Kingston Hill (2013)||2nd in 2014||1 ¼ lengths||15/2|
|Camelot (2011)||1st in 2012||–||8/13|
|Crowded House (2008)||6th in 2009||8 lengths||20/1|
MARCEL BREAK FAVOURITE’S FIRM GRIP
Prior to the 2015 renewal of this race, favourites had secured victory for six years running, with the largest priced winner in this time Kingston Hill at 7/2. Having not competed above Class 4 previously, few fancied Marcel to break the favourites’ dominance but the much unfancied horse did just that. Setting off at 33/1, the bay colt sat rock bottom of the betting but finished strongly to hold off Johannes Vermeer in second place. The shock result remains the only recent exception to the rule however with two favourites and one second favourite winning since. Not the most profitable race for the punters but an often easy one to call at least.
CECIL’S FINEST RACE
Sir Henry Cecil was not lacking in major victories during a truly sensational career. Widely regarded as one of the all-time greats, the Scottish born trainer saddled the winner in 25 domestic Classics. While you’ll struggle to find a major event he did not win, there is no Group 1 contest he enjoyed more success in than the Vertem Futurity Stakes.
HENRY CECIL’S TEN FUTURITY TROPHY WINNERS
|Peter Davies||1990||Be My Chief||1989|
|Take Your Place||1975||Approval||1969|
Known as the Observer Gold Cup when first claiming victory in 1969, the 11-time Champion Trainer won a further nine renewals between 1975 and 1993. As superb as this record is, it’s one placed under real threat by Aidan O’Brien who now stands merely one victory away from hitting double digits.
ATZENI ENJOYS HOT STREAK
Standing joint top as the leading jockeys for this race are none other than Lester Piggott and Pat Eddery who both won on five occasions during their trophy-laden careers. Their position on top is under real threat now however thanks to Andrea Atzeni’s superb run of results in this race. Starting in 2013, the Sardinia-born jockey strung together four consecutive winners in this event, all coming for different trainers. With no other jockey even able to string three wins in a row since its 1961 inception, the Italian’s run, in what is his most successful Group 1 race, will surely stay unmatched.
ANDREA ATZINI’S FUTURITY TROPHY WINNERS
|2016||Rivet||William Haggas||The Starship Partnership|
|2015||Marcel||Peter Chapple-Hyam||Paul Hancock|
|2014||Elm Park||Andrew Balding||Qatar Racing & Kingsclere Racing|
|2013||Kingston Hill||Roger Varian||Paul Smith|
2019 WASHOUT CREATES FIRST UK ALL-WEATHER GROUP 1
Taking place in the British autumn time, it’s not too surprising that this race has occasionally fallen foul of the weather. It hasn’t happened all that often in truth, with Newcastle stepping in in 1989, and Newbury in 2006, but 2019 saw something of a first for one of the biggest juvenile Group 1 events of the season.
It wasn’t the fact that the severe deluge which hit Town Moor in the lead up to the race ultimately led to its abandonment which was unique, but rather the venue which was selected to host the rescheduled edition on the following Friday.
Since its inaugural running back in 1961, the first 58 editions of the contest had been held on turf, but it was the artificial Tapeta surface at Newcastle’s all-weather track which was to provide the platform in 2019. A fairly significant event both for the track and all-weather racing in general, as November 1st 2019 will now go down as the date of the first ever Group 1 race to be held on an artificial surface in the UK.
The race itself was also a fairly memorable affair. The switch in venue certainly did not detract from the quality of the entry, with the Ballydoyle battalion rocking up at Gosforth. In the end though they – and everything else – were repelled in fairly scintillating style by Andrew Balding’s Kameko who scorched clear for an impressive 3¼l success to etch his name into the history books.