Vertem Futurity Trophy 2018 Betting Tips, Odds & Trends


Saturday's Vertem Futurity Trophy is the final test for two-year-olds out to stake 2019 Classic claims, and trainer Aidan O'Brien is poised to saddle another hot favourite in Magna Grecia.

Doncasters plays host to Britain's last Group 1 of 2018, this juvenile 1m race traditionally a pointer to future greatness, last year's winner Saxon Warrior going on to win the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, and many of his predecessors also adding the Epsom Derby to their CV.

There is not definitely a horse of Saxon Warrior's stamp in the Vertem Futurity Trophy betting this year, but there are 10 talented juveniles and we've whittled out the best bets here:

Who are the favourites?

Magna Grecia, a neck second in the Group 3 Autumn Stakes over 1m at Newmarket, is the firm favourite at odds of no bigger than 13/8 with Betway. He's bidding to give trainer Aidan O'Brien a ninth win in the Group 1, and certainly possesses a similar profile to that of his previous eight - though I'd say he'd finish seventh, were they all to race each other.

Recent Newmarket winner Turgenev (9/2 William Hill) comes next in the Vertem Futurity Trophy betting, boasting two wins over the 1m distance and hailing from the all-conquering stable of John Gosden. He has won as he liked twice, but in neither race has he beaten a subsequent, or previous, winner.

Third in the odds is Phoenix Of Spain (11/2 Ladbrokes), winner of the Group 3 Acomb Stakes over 7f at York, and last month second to the season's best two-year-old colt Too Darn Hot in the Group 2 Champage Stakes at Doncaster. The worry for him is that he's never run over 1m.

Is there a trends winner?

From Ireland, and in fact anywhere, the strongest form has always been that of the Group 2 Beresford Stakes. In the last 10 runnings, four winners have run, three winning. Of Aidan O'Brien's eight winners, three won the Beresford and another was beaten a head in the race.

He's also had two Beresford winners finish second at Doncaster to his own Vertem Futurity Trophy winners - High Chaparral and Aristotle, who are among his four winners that only ran once previously.

O'Brien is a master at that tactic, but it isn't common - horses who have only run once before are 2/8 (O'Brien saddling the only recent winners Camelot and Kingsbarns). The other key stat is distance: in the past 10 runnings, only two winners were stepping up to 1m for the first time and every other winner had won over 1m.

This is not the strongest renewal of this race, but taking into account those trends shortlists: Dashing Willoughby, Great Scot, Kick On, Magna Grecia and Turgenev - Magna Grecia and Kick On (16/1 Coral) being the picks on trends.

What's the best Champion Stakes bet?

Magna Grecia is a long way from the best horse Aidan O'Brien has sent to the Vertem Futurity Trophy, but he does look the most likely winner, preceding his narrow Group 3 second with a comfortable 3.5 length win in a Naas maiden - albeit the second and third have yet to run again.

Back him to win at 13/8 with Betway, consider a Magna Grecia-Phoenix Of Spain forecast, and consider Kick On (16/1 Coral) stepping up on his 2.5 length Newmarket maiden win. That was his first spin on good ground and over 1m, and the third Constantinople (trained by O'Brien) won at Thurles on Thursday by 10 lengths.