Darley Irish Oaks
|Grade 1, Curragh 17:50
1m 4f, Class 1
|Saturday 18th July 2015|
1 Covert Love 7/1
2 Jack Naylor 11/2
3 Curvy 15/8F
NR: Qualify (IRE)
9 ran Distances: 1¾l, hd, 2½l
TIME 2m 30.38s (fast by 0.12s)
Covert Love lands Irish Oaks to give trainer Hugo Palmer a first Classic win
Covert Love continued her rapid ascent through the ranks when staying on best to win for Hugo Palmer and Pat Smullen.
The daughter of Azamour came into this Classic on a four-timer. She started her winning run in a Chelmsford maiden in May before landing a York handicap the same month. June saw her successfully step up to Listed company at Newcastle. She stepped up in trip to a mile and a half today.
Together Forever and Seamie Heffernan set out to make it a true test. She stretched her lead to a healthy seven lengths at the halfway stage.
She had the field in trouble in the home straight but it wasCovert Love who began to cut into her lead in the final quarter of a mile.
Smullen cajoled her to hunt down Together Forever and at the furlong pole she got her head in front. Covert Love stayed on stoutly in the final furlong to record a victory by a length and three parts from Jack Naylor who finished well for second at 11/2. Curvy, the 15/8 favourite, also came home well to be third, having been off the bridle under three furlongs out.
Hugo Palmer said: "What a day. I'm to be married next Saturday so this is the last time I can ever say this is the best day of my life. I'll get away with it today but never again."
"Mark McStay and Hugo Merry put the syndicate together and so many people said no. They'll be afraid they missed out now.
"I'm terrified I'll wake up and find myself still in my bed in Newmarket. I couldn't be more excited.
"It was an incredible ride. Aidan's horse went off like a scalded cat but Pat backed off and made his own running and used her like a hare.
"I thought 'they aren't coming from behind' and eventually they didn't.
"She's a lightly raced young filly and I genuinely believe that her biggest days, if they do get bigger than this, are ahead of her.
"She travelled over here perfectly and seems to have a rock-iron constitution. Pat said the ground was as quick as she'd want it but there has got to be rain somewhere.
"There is still time to put her in the St Leger and I could supplement her for the Yorkshire Oaks. I had put her name down for it but crossed it out the day before as she was only a 92-rated handicapper at that stage.
"Credit has to go to the syndicate. When I said I wanted to come her not one of them thought about it twice.
"It cost €40,000 and that was every penny of the prize-money she had won."
Hugo Merry, who bred the filly and is part of the Fomo Syndicate, said: "We bred a lot of nice horses down in Cork and we are very proud of that for starters.
"What a career year Hugo Palmer is having - a young trainer just starting out and every time he turns up it's in a Group race at the moment so it's wonderful.
"I loved her as a foal. Mark McStay and myself bred her. He got some friends together and put her with a young trainer and it's been great. All she does is try and lengthen. She loves her racing and for an Azamour she was the coolest filly in the paddock.
"It was risky (supplementing her) and Mark and myself had the most to gain and the least to lose because we own the mare but the rest of the boys were all ponied up and it's a wonderful story for them. Some of them are young, very wealthy people and we hope they are going to keep going forward owning nice horses.
"I think it's all about syndicates like in Australia. We've got to have theses syndicates and young people coming forward. the more syndicates the more happy scenes like this."
Pat Smullen added: "It's a brilliant day and any day you ride a Classic is huge but especially on your home track is special. It was great to get the call up earlier this week. It was a brave call by connections to supplement her. They were duly rewarded.
"We went a good pace. We were always happy she was going to stay a mile and a half. Seamie was intent on making a good pace. When my filly levelled off in the straight she galloped all the way to the line. I was just trying to time it to not be in front too long. From the furlong pole she was never going to stop. Thankfully she kept going."
This was the fifth British-trained winner of the Irish Oaks in the last seven runnings. Covert Love gave Pat Smullen his first Irish Oaks and eighth Irish Classic overall. She also brought up his 391/1 treble on the day.
Darley Irish Oaks (Group 1)
€400,000 added, 3yo only, 1m 4f
Going: Good to Yielding
|Pos||Dr||Dist||Horse SP||Jockey Weight||Trainer||Age|
|1st||(8)||Covert Love (IRE) 7/1||P J Smullen
|2nd||(5)||1¾||Jack Naylor 11/2||F M Berry
|Mrs J Harrington||3|
|3rd||(2)||hd||Curvy 15/8f||W M Lordan
|4th||(7)||2½||Together Forever (IRE) 7/1||J A Heffernan
|A P O'Brien||3|
|5th||(3)||1½||Speedy Boarding 12/1||F Tylicki
|J R Fanshawe||3|
|6th||(1)||1¾||Stellar Glow (IRE) 33/1||K J Manning
|J S Bolger||3|
|7th||(4)||hd||Gretchen 14/1||Andrea Atzeni
|J H M Gosden||3|
|8th||(10)||1¾||Words (IRE) 7/2||J P O'Brien
|A P O'Brien||3|
|9th||(9)||41||Kissed By Angels (IRE) 25/1||M C Hussey
|A P O'Brien||3|
|NR||(6)||Qualify (IRE) 8/1||C O'Donoghue
|A P O'Brien||3|