Futurity Trophy Tips: Side with Verboten each-way

The Vertem Futurity Trophy has been switched to Newcastle on Friday after Doncaster was abandoned.
The Vertem Futurity Trophy has been switched to Newcastle on Friday after Doncaster was abandoned.

Alex Stearn previews Friday’s rearranged Vertem Futurity Trophy at Newcastle, and picks out his best bet in the race…

The weather was the enemy on Saturday, as torrential rain claimed Doncaster’s Vertem Futurity Trophy fixture, but quick thinking from the BHA allowed for the race to be rescheduled, and it will now take place on the all-weather at Newcastle on Friday night. The race looked to be an Aidan O’Brien procession, with only Kameko standing firm against them, but now reopened for old and new entries at a reduced fee, it promises to be a more intriguing contest for racing fans. 

The race will make history as the first Group 1 in Britain to be run on the all-weather, and it gives Aidan O’Brien the chance to make a maiden voyage to the track in his bid to match Sir Henry Cecil’s record of 10 wins in the race. Four of his original five with entries stand their ground, including Mogul, who was a short-priced favourite for the original contest. A full-brother to the Juddmonte International Stakes winner Japan, Mogul was last seen when comfortably winning in Group 2 company at Leopardstown in September. He looked better the further he went that day, giving confidence the stiff mile at Newcastle will play to his strengths, and he holds obvious claims once again. 

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The only horse to have beaten Mogul so far is Geometrical, doing so on that rival’s debut at Gowran Park back in August, and he too holds an entry for Jim Bolger. He is often very shrewd at sending his horses over the Irish Sea, but it would be optimistic to think that Geometrical could uphold that form, given that he has struggled in three starts in Group company since, and the improvement shown by O’Brien’s charge to boot.

Innisfree has a similar profile to Mogul, having won a maiden at Galway on his second start in July, before justifying favouritism in Group 2 Beresford Stakes at the Curragh last time out. He stepped up to a mile on that occasion, and seemed to relish the extra yardage on heavy ground. As such, he may have preferred the contest to have been run on the bottomless ground at Doncaster, but nonetheless, his claims are clear to see. 

Iberia and Royal County Down complete the quartet that were declared for the original contest on Saturday, and both look to have something to find with their aforementioned stablemates. Of the rest of Ballydoyle’s entries, impressive Leopardstown maiden winner San Pedro, and Wichita, who was withdrawn on Saturday at Longchamp on account of the heavy ground but had previously looked a colt destined for this level after turning the Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket into a procession in September, make most appeal. 

Rather surprisingly, Aidan O’Brien is still looking for his first Group 1 winner with a two-year-old colt this year after having to follow home the blue of Godolphin on a number of occasions so far this term, and he risks doing so again with Verboten amongst the entries for John Gosden. This once-raced colt holds a number of entries in much calmer waters throughout the week, but his effort to win on debut was impressive given the inexperience he showed at Yarmouth back in July. He looked to have talent in abundance that day, and given that it was only late on over the seven furlongs when the penny dropped, the step up in trip looks a good move if he does take his chance here.

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Given the confidence that John Gosden has in the straight track at Newcastle - something displayed by the talent he has unleashed up there since the all-weather track was installed - he interestingly has Cherokee Trail entered for the same connections as O’Brien’s contingent in Tabor, Smith and Magnier. A thrice-raced colt by War Front, he won minor events at Ascot and Newbury before stepping up in trip and grade in the Group 3 Autumn Stakes at Newmarket last time out. He somewhat disappointed that day, finishing seventh, but it had been reported that he lost his action on the soft ground, so he is worth another chance to confirm the promise he showed in his first two performances.  

The sole English challenger from the original fixture, Kameko, is in line to fly the flag again for 2014’s successful team of Andrew Balding and Qatar Racing. He beat a subsequent winner on debut at Sandown before only finding one too good on his first step into Group company in the Solario Stakes over the same course and distance on his next start in August, just running out of time to collar the eventual winner, Positive. He started a hot favourite when encountering a mile for the first time in the Group 2 Royal Lodge at Newmarket as a consequence last time out, but again went down fighting, this time to an Aidan O’Brien improver in the form of Royal Dornoch. The stiff nature of the track will suit him plenty, but his Newmarket-conquering connections will have a good idea of the standard required to beat him. 

Arguably, the most exciting prospect in the field is Kinross for the Ralph Beckett team. He unleashed this son of Kingman at Newmarket at the beginning of October and was not disappointed, seeing him stride clear from a 91-rated subsequent winner. That performance was one of the best juvenile performances of the season, and he very much falls into the ‘could be anything’ category. Admittedly, he also holds an entry at Newmarket on Saturday in Group 3 company, but would undoubtedly whet the appetite of racing fans if making the journey to Gosforth Park. 

The Vertem Futurity trophy promises to be a spectacle under the lights of the straight mile at Newcastle, and hopefully carries a stronger English challenge than the original race was scheduled to last week. Kameko is a solid bet to run into a place, with Mogul expected to be a short-price favourite to enhance his record to three wins from four starts. If Wichita were to line up, jockey bookings would be key in sorting the expectations of the Ballydoyle contingent, and he wouldn’t be without a squeak. Kinross isn’t certain to line up, either, but would be of definite interest if he does, but given John Gosden’s record at the track, Verboten looks to be a good bet each-way if leaving the inexperience of his debut behind and channelling the obvious talent he possesses. 


Friday 1st November 2019 - Vertem Futurity Trophy - Verboten each-way @ 10/1

Newcastle 18:00
Verboten silk

Verboten (EW)

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