A group one race will be staged on an artificial surface for the first time in Britain after it was revealed the rescheduled Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes will be run on Newcastle’s Tapeta surface on Friday. The evening fixture emerged as the race’s unlikely saviour following the cancellation of Doncaster’s Saturday card due to waterlogging, with various stakeholders within the sport moving swiftly to ensure the final British Group One of the season was rearranged. Newcastle’s Tapeta course, which was laid in 2016 and was famously the scene of Enable’s debut the same year, will now play host to some more potential stars.
The track boasts a straight mile so race conditions will be similar to Doncaster, albeit on a different surface. Although it will be the first time the race takes place on Tapeta, Newcastle has staged the race before, with Be My Chief winning on turf for Sir Henry Cecil in 1989. The £200,000 prize fund remains unchanged, and the race reverts to the original entries. In addition, it was reopened so new entries could be made by noon on Monday. This gives trainers the chance to challenge the virtual monopoly Aidan O’Brien had at last Monday’s five day stage when it was revealed he had 11 of the 12 remaining entries, and then five of the six declarations.
Owner John Dance, who is also the founder of race sponsor Vertem Asset Management, said: “It was a real shame that the Futurity Trophy was lost to the weather, but as a big supporter of racing in the north and of Newcastle in particular, I’m absolutely delighted to see the race come up here. “The straight mile at Newcastle is a fantastic track, as seen by the quality of young horses that have run here in the last few years, so we cannot wait for Friday and to be associated with a race of the highest quality at our home racecourse.” Like Doncaster, Newcastle comes under the Arena Racing Company umbrella, and chief executive Martin Cruddace added: “We were obviously very sorry to lose the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster, but I am delighted we have been able to move so quickly to rearrange the race, at its original prize money levels, to Newcastle on Friday evening.
“We would obviously like to thank our colleagues at the BHA, the Levy Board and horsemen for their cooperation and, of course, our sponsors Vertem. All have done a brilliant job working together and with us to rearrange the race so quickly. We hope all racing fans in the north east will embrace the fixture and come along to enjoy Britain’s first Group One to be run on an artificial surface. Our Tapeta track at Newcastle is world class and I am sure the track will do the famous race proud.” With Newbury’s Saturday card also lost to the elements, a replacement home has been found for the Group 3 Horris Hill Stakes, with the 7f race for juveniles to be staged on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile on Saturday. Like the Futurity, original entries will remain but additional entries can be made and the prize fund stays at £40,000.