The October Trophy at Doncaster Racecourse, in South Yorkshire, was inaugurated, as the Timeform Gold Cup, in 1961 and, for sponsorship purposes, has been run under various titles – Observer Gold Cup, William Hill Futurity Stakes and Racing Post Trophy Stakes – over the years. The latest title sponsor is independent stockbroker Vertem Asset Management so, starting in 2018, the race will be run as the Vertem Futurity Trophy.
In any event, the race, which is run over a mile and open to two-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies, has been a Group 1 contest since the introduction of the European Pattern system in 1971. It is, in fact, the final Group 1 of the season and is staged annually in October on the second day of a two-day fixture on Town Moor.
Despite the assertion of the late Phil Bull, founder of Timeform, that the race is not “something to provide resourceless and thought lazy journalists with guidance as to what might win next year’s Classic races”, the Vertem Futurity Stakes has become a recognised trial for the Derby. Five winners – Reference Point (1986), High Chaparral (2001), Motivator (2004), Authorized (2006) and Camelot (2011) – have gone on to win the Epsom Classic the following season. The late Sir Henry Cecil, trainer of Reference Point, saddled ten winners of the Vertem Futurity Trophy between 1969 and 1993 and remains the most successful trainer in the history of the race.