First run in 1961 as the Timeform Gold Cup, the Vertem Futurity Trophy, at Doncaster Racecourse, is the final Group One race of the UK turf flat season and a pointer to the following season’s Classics.
Contested over a mile, it was founded by Phil Bull, the creator of Timeform, and was backed by this organisation until 1964. The following year, the Observer newspaper sponsored the race and the Observer Gold Cup was classed at Group 1 level.
The bookmaker William Hill took over the sponsorship in 1976, and from this point the event was known as the Futurity Stakes.
This continued to 1988 and from 1989 to 2017 the race was sponsored by the Racing Post and run as the Racing Post Trophy.
The race was given its current title in 2018, when John Dance’s Vertem Asset Management became the sponsor.
Notable early winners included the brilliant filly Noblesse, who went on to wins the Oaks, while Ribocco won the Irish Derby and the St Leger at three.
The race’s profile was significantly raised after the 1967 winner, Vaguely Noble, went on to land the following season’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
1969 saw Approval give Henry Cecil one of the first big race triumphs of a glittering career. Cecil would win the Futurity on no fewer than ten occasions.
High Top won the race in 1971 and would land the following season’s 2,000 Guineas.
The 1974 winner hailed from France in the shape of Green Dancer. The Alex Head-trained colt would win the French 2,000 Guineas of 1975 and later became an influential stallion.
In 1980 there was a vintage renewal. Beldale Flutter, trained by Michael Jarvis, defeated the once-raced Shergar. Both colts proved Group One winners at three, with Shergar carrying all before him.
In 1986, Henry Cecil was again in the spot light, as his colt Reference Point stormed to an emphatic five-length success. The following year, after a sinus operation, he won the Dante Stakes, Derby, King George VI& Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, Great Voltigeur Stakes and the St Leger.
Armiger was a runaway winner for Cecil in 1992 and he saddled his final winner the following year, when future King George winner King’s Theatre landed the Racing Post Trophy.
In 1994, Celtic Swing put up an almost freakish performance under Kevin Darley, winning the race by a staggering dozen lengths.
Medaaly landed the 1996 race, with future Derby winner Benny The Dip coming home third. A year later, Saratoga Springs was a first success in the race for up and coming Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien.
The new master of Ballydoyle was successful again in 1999 with Aristotle and then in 2001, High Chaparral served notice of his potent force with victory. He would go on to win an English and Irish Derby and two Breeders’ Cup Turfs.
In 2002 it was O’Brien again, as Brian Boru won the Racing Post Trophy. He would later add a St Leger to his cv.
The race was proving a fertile oasis for future Classic winners and 2003 produced another, as American Post won the race before later landing the French 2,000 Guineas.
In 2004, the highly-rated Motivator won for Michael Bell. This top class colt went on to win the Derby at Epsom the following season.
It was a similar path that was trodden by Authorized, the 2006 Racing Post Trophy winner. Peter Chapple-Hyam trained the colt for the Derby at Epsom and provided Lanfranco Dettori with a first victory in the Blue Riband.
The classy St Nicholas Abbey impressed in the 2009 renewal but disappointed during his truncated three year-old career. However, as an older horse, St Nicholas Abbey won the hearts and minds of race fans around the world. He won three Coronation Cups, a Dubai Sheema Classic and a Breeders’ Cup Turf, all under the guidance of Aidan O’Brien.
The same trainer enjoyed success in 2011 with Camelot, who came within a whisker of winning the Triple Crown in 2012. The colt won the 2,000 Guineas, Derby and Irish Derby and was second in the St Leger to Encke.
Kingsbarns added yet another victory for O’Brien in 2012, before Roger Varian landed the race with Kingston Hill. A year later, Varian’s charge was back at Doncaster, having already finished second in the Derby – and landed the St Leger.
Kingston Hill’s victory was the first of a remarkable sequence of four straight wins in the race for jockey Andrea Atzeni. Further victories followed on Elm Park, Marcel and Rivet.
Then Aidan O’Brien took over again, training Saxon Warrior to beat Roaring Lion in a vintage renewal in 2017. Saxon Warrior went on to win the 2,000 Guineas the following year, while Roaring Lion was named Horse Of The Year 2018 with five Group One triumphs.
O’Brien again produced the winner in 2018, when Magna Grecia landed the spoils from Phoenix Of Spain. He too went on to land the 2,000 Guineas the following season, while the runner-up, won the Irish 2,000 Guineas.
Vertem Futurity Trophy Winners
Take Your Place
Be My Chief
St Nicholas Abbey