Futurity Trophy – The Doncaster Race That Highlights Future Champions

Doncaster Racecourse Entrance

The South Yorkshire track of Doncaster is most famous for the St Leger Stakes, which sees a field of the most talented stayers in training do battle over 1m6½f in the final Classic of the season. However, that historic event isn’t the only Group 1 contest on Town Moor. Around a month after the St Leger, Donny plays host to one of the most influential juvenile events of the season.

Inaugurated in 1961 as the Timeform Gold Cup, the race was run as the Racing Post Trophy between 1989 and 2017 before switching to its current title of the Futurity Trophy. Whatever the title, this event always attracts a top-quality field of youngsters with dreams of Classic glory. A race well worth keeping an eye on, the current century has seen the winner go on to claim the Derby (five times), the Irish Derby (three times), the 2,000 Guineas (four times), the St Leger (twice), the French 2,000 Guineas and the Irish 2,000 Guineas.

Here, we look back at the top five winners over the 22 editions from 2001 to 2022 – with an honourable mention to 2022 winner Auguste Rodin, who already has the English and Irish Derby in the bag and may not be done yet.

5. Motivator (2004) – Epsom Derby Winner

  • Trainer – Michael Bell
  • Sire – Montjeu
  • Peak Official Rating – 127

This son of the brilliant Arc winner Montjeu headed to Doncaster with only a maiden success to his name, but such was the impression he created when routing the field at Newmarket that he was sent off the clear 6/4f on the day. He gave backers a fright when briefly looked out of sorts inside the final furlong, only to find an extra gear and power clear close to home.

Fast forward to the colt’s Classic campaign, and Motivator made it a perfect three from three in the Dante Stakes at York to set himself up for a tilt at the Epsom Derby. Starting as the 3/1 favourite with Johnny Murtagh in the saddle, Motivator put in a truly spectacular display to see off two horses (in Walk In The Park and Dubawi) who would go on to be amongst the most influential stallions of the modern era. Motivator never did manage to win again, but on that day at Epsom, he was close to perfect.

4. Authorized (2006) – Epsom Derby Winner

  • Trainer – Peter Chapple-Hyam
  • Sire – Montjeu
  • Peak Official Rating – 128

Two years after the success of Motivator, another son of Montjeu was leaving his rivals standing. This win came as something of a surprise, with Authorized sent off at 25/1, having managed only a third-place finish on his debut in a Class 2 contest. Outsider or not, the strapping bay tanked into the race on the outside before smoothly clearing away inside the final furlong under Frankie Dettori.

In common with his half-brother, Authorized returned in the Dante, showing a devastating turn of foot to rocket to the head of the Derby market. “Rocket” was then an apt description for his display in the 1m4f Classic, as, having travelled nicely into the race, he simply blew the field away inside the final furlong. Further success followed in the Coral Eclipse before he headed off for a career at stud at the end of his three-year-old campaign. Topping the list of his most famous offspring is one of the most popular horses of the modern era, Tiger Roll.

3. St Nicholas Abbey (2009) – 3x Coronation Cup Winner

  • Trainer – Aidan O’Brien
  • Sire – Montjeu
  • Peak Official Rating – 124

With a phenomenal tally of 11 wins, Aidan O’Brien is out on his own as the most successful trainer in the history of this race, and it is the Ballydoyle maestro who dominates the remainder of this list. First up is yet another son of Montjeu – the tough and talented St Nicholas Abbey. This globetrotting star arrived at Doncaster more battle-hardened than Motivator or Authorised, having already landed a Group 2 contest at the Curragh. The step up to the top table then proved no issue, as he was smuggled into the race by Johnny Murtagh before shooting through a gap and powering clear.

Only sixth when starting as the Even Money favourite on his return in the 2,000 Guineas, he missed the remainder of his Classic campaign due to injury. However, that merely proved to be a temporary halt to the colt’s plundering of Group 1 prizes, with top-level triumphs coming in the USA and Dubai, in addition to a record-setting three victories in the Coronation Cup.

2. Camelot (2011) – Epsom Derby Winner

  • Trainer – Aidan O’Brien
  • Sire – Montjeu
  • Peak Official Rating – 124

When a Montjeu colt wins this event, he invariably turns out to be a star. Bolstering the record of the sire still further is the horse who came closer than any to landing the elusive Triple Crown in the modern era. Having dispatched his rivals with the minimum of fuss on debut at Leopardstown, Camelot started as a hot 10/11 favourite at Doncaster and duly delivered in effortless style, sending the hype machine into overdrive ahead of his Classic season.

Leg one of the Triple Crown saw Camelot tough it out to score by a neck from French Fifteen. Next stop Epsom, and a career-best performance to bag the Derby in supreme style. Adding the Irish Deby to his haul, history beckoned in the St Leger. At odds of just 2/5, the market expected him to become the first Triple Crown winner since Nijinsky, but, unfortunately, the Godolphin runner Encke had other ideas and hung on by three-quarters of a length from a slightly unlucky Camelot.

1. High Chaparral (2001) – Irish Derby Winner

  • Trainer – Aidan O’Brien
  • Sire – Sadler’s Wells
  • Peak Official Rating – 126

Topping the bill is one of the most consistently brilliant horses of the early 2000s: the mighty High Chaparral. Arriving at Doncaster with only a maiden success to his name, this son of Sadler’s Wells was expected to play second fiddle to stablemate Castle Gandolfo, but produced what would become a trademark gutsy effort to master the odds on favourite close home.

Listed and Group 3 success followed on his return to the track before facing his stiffest test to date in the Epsom Derby. Again, only second best in his own yard according to the betting – with Hawk Wing sent off favourite on the day – the iron will and staying power of High Chaparral came to the fore once more in a stirring final furlong. One of the real trailblazers in what was a golden era for the yard, High Chapparal added wins in the Irish Derby, the Breeders’ Cup Turf (twice), and the Irish Champion Stakes to his mightily impressive CV before joining the ranks of Ballydoyle Stallions, with the awesome Altior counted amongst his most talented progeny.