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Covert Love - Darley Irish Oaks

Covert Love and Pat Smullen after winning last year's Irish Oaks

  PICTURE: Patrick McCann (  

Irish Oaks winner Covert Love retired

COVERT LOVE, who gave trainer Hugo Palmer his first Classic winner in last year's Irish Oaks, has been retired after suffering a strained ligament.

The daughter of Azamour had missed her intended reappearance in the Middleton Stakes at York due to pus in a foot. She was still engaged at the five-day stage for Wednesday's Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Palmer told the Racing Post on Sunday: "She's picked up an injury, a strained ligament. It's the sort of injury that if she was a gelding you would say, well, she's going to be off for the year and who knows we might win the Melbourne Cup in 2017 or something like that, but with a Classic-winning broodmare prospect that's not the sort of thing you do because it's too high a risk."

Reflecting on what she had given the yard, the trainer added: "It's a very sad day but there are many sadder days in the grand scheme of things and it was fantastic to be able to have those moments.

"As one of her owners said this morning, there is a line in Casablanca that goes 'we'll always have Paris' - well, we'll always have the Curragh. It's disappointing for everyone but particularly for the lad who looks after her and rides her every day, Glen Magee, who worked so hard with her for the past 18 months.

"It's sad and disappointing but who knows, further down the line there might be an opportunity to get to know one of her foals. "

Jockey Pat Smullen, who formed a tremendous partnership with Covert Love in the second half of 2015 said: "It's a shame, as it was thought she could take the owners to the Arc this year. Still, we had some great days with her and those are worth remembering."

Covert Love had also won the Prix de l'Opera last season at Longchamp and had become a popular figure due to her game, front-running style. Her story was also a popular one, as she had cost just 26,000gns as a yearling and ran in the colours of the Fomo Syndicate.

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