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Race of the Day on Sky Sports Racing: Aidan O'Brien aiming for 11th Vertem Futurity triumph at Doncaster

Aidan O'Brien looks to land an 11th victory in the Doncaster Group One this weekend; he runs favourite Auguste Rodin, who took a Leopardstown Group Two on last start; watch the race this afternoon, live on Sky Sports Racing

Moore rides Auguste Rodin to victory in the Group Two KPMG Champion Juvenile Stakes
Image: Moore rides Auguste Rodin to victory in the Group Two KPMG Champion Juvenile Stakes

Sky Sports Racing presenter Mike Cattermole is back with his lowdown on the big race on Saturday, the Group One Vertem Futurity Stakes at Doncaster.

The Vertem Futurity Trophy (3:35) is the last Group One of the British Flat season and in the past few years it has developed into a bit of a benefit for Aidan O'Brien.

He has won it three times in the last five runnings and 10 in all to equal the late Sir Henry Cecil. Auguste Rodin arrives with a big reputation to set a new record, although stablemate Salt Lake City should not be dismissed lightly, either.

Tactically, Salt Lake City is a candidate for front-running duties, as is Stormbuster and Dancing Magic with Captain Wierzba handy.

Vertem Futurity Trophy live on Sky Sports Racing
Vertem Futurity Trophy live on Sky Sports Racing

Watch as next year's Classic contenders do battle in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster, live on Sky Sports Racing on Saturday, October 22


Like many places, it has been wet in South Yorkshire this week and the ground is soft, heavy in places after 23mm of rain on Thursday and more showers into Friday morning.

There are possibilities of further showers during racing on Friday, but Saturday is forecast to be dry.

Auguste Rodin is ante-post favourite for the Derby at Epsom next year
Image: Auguste Rodin is ante-post favourite for the Derby at Epsom next year


Auguste Rodin

The son of Deep Impact and Rhododendron comes here with a heap of stable confidence following a convincing win in the Group 2 Champion Juvenile Stakes over a mile on soft ground at Leopardstown, when he found plenty in the closing stages and hit the line strongly.

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It was certainly a step in the right direction, having won his maiden at Naas over seven furlongs. The only negative about the Leopardstown win, perhaps, is that the closest pursuer that day, the filly Caroline Street, disappointed on her next start against her own sex in the Weld Park Stakes two weeks later.

Being talked about by his trainer as the type to have both the speed for a Guineas and stamina for a Derby. A worthy, if short-priced, favourite and the one to beat.

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Aidan O'Brien talks Auguste Rodin, who isn't a confirmed runner in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster.

Captain Wierzba

Was contesting a Group 3 on very soft ground at Saint-Cloud when his jockey Rossa Ryan was infamously barged off by Christophe Soumillon in the early stages of the contest.

So, we don't know how much he might have improved from his all-the-way Ffos Las (good) maiden win over 7f. The form of that race is just ordinary, however, and he needs to find a ton of improvement to land a blow here. May well race prominently.

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The best in the world head for the Breeders' Cup!

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Dancing Magic

A talented maiden who has shown improvement in his four starts to date and attempted to make the running when fourth behind Silver Knott, Epictetus and Holloway Boy in the Group 3 Autumn Stakes over a mile at Newmarket.

Obviously has to find something on this softer surface - the first time he has tackled it - to reverse that form but ought to win races.

Epictetus and Martin Harley win at Newmarket's July Festival
Image: Epictetus and Martin Harley win at Newmarket's July Festival


Won his maiden on debut at Newmarket in July (good to firm) and was then absent for three months until going down by a neck to the more experienced Silver Knott (gave 3lb) in the Group 3 Autumn Stakes at Newmarket over this trip on good ground.

That is already smart form and he should be expected to build on that and confirm the placings with both Holloway Boy and Dancing Magic. This will be the first time that he has raced on soft, but his sire and dam were fine on it, as indeed is his elder half-sister, Jumbly.

Interestingly, the Gosden name is yet to feature on the role of honour for this contest.

Holloway Boy

Became the first debutant to win at Royal Ascot for 26 years when surprising in the Chesham Stakes at odds of 40-1. Has been beaten on all three of his starts since but still performed well in the Vintage, Tattersalls (said to have needed it after missing work when behind Nostrum) and Autumn Stakes.

The run at Newmarket last time was the first time he had tried a mile - which ought to have suited - and he could not secure a clear run in the closing stages. He has just under two lengths to find with Epictetus on this debut on a soft surface, which on pedigree may suit him.

He is also fitted with cheekpieces for the first time. Clearly needs to find some improvement but not completely ruled out.

Holloway Boy took the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot on debut.
Image: Holloway Boy took the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot on debut.

King Of Steel

Giant son of Wootton Bassett who showed he handled soft conditions well at Nottingham last week with an easy debut win over the extended mile.

He did well from a wide draw but his time was almost two seconds slower than the other division of the maiden. Clearly this is a massive step up in class and we will find out a lot more now about how big his engine is inside that big 17-hand frame.

Salt Lake City

Following an encouraging debut behind subsequent National Stakes winner Al Riffa at the Curragh, he was a bitter disappointment at York in the Convivial Maiden when he checked out quickly from a good position in the closing stages.

Perhaps the ground was too lively? Whatever, he looked in much better shape when forcing the issue from the front and romping home by five lengths, ridden out, at Navan on soft ground.

The fact that he is here at all has to be a positive sign, as I understand he is lining up on his own merits.


From the yard that won this with Elm Park and Kameko, this full brother to Arabian Queen looked useful from the front at Newbury last time when he thrashed three rivals in style to lose his maiden tag at the fourth time of asking.

The Newbury form is not good enough as it stands (runner-up has been beaten since) and he needs to find more on this deeper ground (handles good to soft, yet to race on soft).

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Donnacha O'Brien was honest enough to tell Sky Sports Racing he was running his nice colt Proud And Regal in France on Saturday to avoid clashing with his father's highly regarded Auguste Rodin.

Clearly Ryan Moore's mount is the one to beat here, having looked the part at Leopardstown, and the conditions hold no fear for him. He is priced accordingly.

Stablemate Salt Lake City, whose form in maidens is very solid, may offer some value on this testing surface. It might even be an O'Brien 1-2. Epictetus needs to pull out more but is going the right way and is entitled to find it. Surely the Gosden name will be on the winner's trophy one day?

His price is just a little short now of guaranteeing you money back if he is placed. Just a note about Holloway Boy as the ground could suit him and he now has headgear to aid him. I feel we have not seen the best of him yet.

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