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‘Sweetheart’ Covert Love delights Palmer in build-up to Darley Yorkshire Oaks

18 Aug 2015

A strong field of 11 runners, headed by the first three home in the Irish Oaks, has been declared for the Darley Yorkshire Oaks at York on Thursday. Trainer Hugo Palmer explains why he forked out a £35,000 supplementary entry fee to enable Covert Love to run.

Hugo Palmer is hopeful that Covert Love will follow up her Irish Oaks success in York’s Darley Yorkshire Oaks. Image courtesy of

Thursday’s Darley Yorkshire Oaks field is spearheaded by Covert Love, unbeaten in four starts over the past three and a half months, culminating in victory in the Irish Oaks.

The rate of her progress has been astounding – on her last visit to York she was rated just 83 when winning a handicap on 30 May. Less than 12 weeks on, she has officially improved by 32 pounds.

Irish challengers have a good recent record in this race (four wins in the last nine years) and a five-strong raiding party is led by Jack Naylor and Curvy. They were less than two lengths behind Covert Love when second and third in the Irish Oaks.

Covert Love’s trainer, Hugo Palmer, said: 

“Covert Love has been great since the Irish Oaks – I’m absolutely delighted with her.”

“The £35,000 supplementary fee is a lot of money but luckily it’s her money, money that she won at The Curragh, and it was not a difficult decision at all because the Darley Yorkshire Oaks was the obvious race for her.”

 “The strong pace in Ireland suited her but she has made her own running and is very amenable – we have never had to think too much about how she’s going to be ridden.”

 “As my first Group 1 winner she will always be a very special filly to me and one day I hope to have a painting of her. She’s sweet, a total and utter sweetheart, who loves her training and is very straightforward.”

“To win my first British Group 1 with her would mean a massive amount.”

Another leading candidate among an 11-strong line-up is Lady Of Dubai, who suffered from serious traffic problems when sixth in the Qatar Nassau Stakes last time out but previously had Jack Naylor behind her in sixth when third in the Investec Oaks.

Crystal Zvedza was even further behind in the Investec Oaks. However, she hails from the yard of Sir Michael Stoute, who is bidding to become the first trainer to win this prestigious prize on ten occasions.

The full list of runners (with jockeys) is as follows:

Lustrous (Richard Kingscote), Miss Marjurie (Paul Hanagan), Covert Love (Pat Smullen), Crystal Zvedza (Ted Durcan), Curvy (Wayne Lordan), Easter (Seamie Heffernan), Jack Naylor (Fran Berry), Lady Of Dubai (James Doyle), Outstanding (Colm O’Donoghue), Pleascach (Kevin Manning), Sea Calisi (Mickael Barzalona). (11)