Futurity Trophy Tips: O'Brien can make history at Doncaster

Aidan O'Brien is aiming to win the Futurity Trophy for a record-equalling tenth time at Doncaster on Saturday.
Aidan O'Brien is aiming to win the Futurity Trophy for a record-equalling tenth time at Doncaster on Saturday.

Nick Seddon previews Saturday’s Group 1 Futurity Trophy at Doncaster, which Aidan O’Brien will be hoping to win for a record-equalling tenth time… 

Last year’s rearranged Futurity Trophy created history when becoming the first British top level contest to be held on an all-weather surface, and although the conditions were slightly different to the norm as a consequence, it continued a three-year trend of producing the following year’s 2000 Guineas winner - in the form of the Andrew Balding-trained Kameko. 

That was Balding’s second success in the race (after Elm Park in 2014), and he’ll be hoping to strike for a third time here with King Vega. He’s yet to open his account after two starts, but he’s shown plenty of ability on the racecourse so far, finishing second in the Group 3 Solario Stakes over seven furlongs at Sandown in August. He’s open to more improvement yet, though his conqueror at Sandown (Etonian) has since struggled at this level in the Dewhurst, meaning King Vega will need plenty more for win purposes. 

Two of the nine-strong field arrive here having won their most recent outing, including the thrice-raced Barador, who’s a lively outsider for the Roger Varian team. Barador has won two of his three starts to date, including a novice contest over seven furlongs at York earlier this month. That was a comfortable two and a quarter length success, and while this steadily progressive type will handle the mile-long trip, more is needed if he is to have a serious say. 

One with much bigger claims is One Ruler, who represents the powerful Godolphin operation. He’s improved with each of of his four starts to date, winning twice, and took the step up into Pattern company in his stride when winning the Group 3 Autumn Stakes over this trip at Newmarket earlier this month. That was a smart effort, quickly putting matters to bed in the closing stages, and he’s one to consider here with more improvement likely yet.

One man to take seriously in this race is Aidan O’Brien, who is aiming to equal Sir Henry Cecil’s tally of 10 wins in this race. He had as many as seven entries for this at the five-day stage, but now relies solely on Wembley. He’s well-travelled for a juvenile, having made six career starts already, winning once. His sole success to date came in a Roscommon maiden in August, but he’s taken a notable step forward since, finishing second in back-to-back starts in Group 1 company.

The most recent of those efforts came in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket earlier this month, and he did well to finish within three quarters of a length to the victor (stablemate St Mark's Basilica), having made his move from an unpromising position. That form is by far the strongest on offer here, and bearing in mind he’s proven at this trip, he gets the vote to pick up a top level success at the third time of asking. 

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Two more to consider are State Of Rest and Megallan. The former represents Joseph O'Brien, and has previous at Doncaster, having finished third in last month's Group 2 Champagne Stakes at the St Leger meeting. That was a career best effort, and while he showed an excellent attitude to hang onto the coat tails of the two protagonists that day, he'll need more here now upped to a mile in what could prove to be sticky conditions come Saturday.

Meanwhile, Megallan carries the familiar colours of Anthony Oppenheimer, and will be looking to reverse the form of the Autumn Stakes with One Ruler. He encountered plenty of traffic problems that day, and almost certainly would have finished closer with a clear run, but either way he'll still need a career best here if he is to pick up a second career success.

The field is completed by Mac Swiney, Cobh and Emperor Supreme. The last-named looks completely out of his depth on the back of two efforts to place in novice contests so far, and is hard to fancy. Mac Swiney meanwhile is a Group 2 winner, winning the Futurity Stakes at the Curragh in August, though he has something to prove here having disappointed in the National Stakes at the same course last month.

Finally, Cobh has looked steadily progressive in four starts for far, and has to be considered an each-way chance if able to build on his run to finish third in last month's Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket. For win purposes, though, it's difficult to oppose Wembley, who brings the strongest form to the table and looks a good bet to create yet more history for his all-powerful handler. 


Futurity Trophy, Doncaster, Saturday 24th October - back Wembley at 15/8

Futurity Trophy
Wembley silk


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