Covert Love, New Providence, New Providence, Galileo Gold
All-Weather Maiden at Chelmsford – Covert Love, May 2015
About Hugo Palmer
2015 was a great year for up-and-coming trainer Hugo Palmer who more than doubled his previous year’s total winnings, and cracked the magical million pound prize money barrier for the first time in the process.
That’s a big achievement for a trainer who has held a licence for just five years and started out in 2011 with just a handful of cheaply purchased horses.
Debut – Covert Love
Covert Love is the horse that has really put Newmarket-based Palmer on the map. The 26,000 euro daughter of Azamour ran only once as a juvenile in 2014 (finishing fifth) but developed into a high-class middle-distance performer last campaign under the expert guidance of a young trainer who has very much made people sit up and take notice.
After winning an all-weather maiden at Chelmsford on her seasonal bow in May, Covert Love made a winning handicap debut off a mark of 83 at York before completing a hattrick when winning the listed Hoppings Stakes at Newcastle in June with an official rating of just 92. Raised 17lbs for that win, Palmer chose to shoot for the stars and took his rising star to the Curragh for the Group 1 Darley Irish Oaks where she was always close to the pace before storming clear inside the final furlong to beat Jack Naylor by nearly two lengths.
This was a tremendous achievement for a relatively cheap filly and a relatively inexperienced trainer, and Palmer showed that success to be no fluke when Covert Love failed by only a neck to follow up in the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks at York in August. Six weeks later she was back in action bidding for the Group 1 Prix de l’Opera at Longchamp on Arc day, and again the filly delivered, fighting like a tiger to beat Jazzi Top for a famous success.
Best Horses in 2015
Palmer, who served his time as an assistant trainer to Patrick Chammings and Hughie Morrison, and also spent periods at both the Cheveley Park and Highclere Stud before honing his skills with star Australian handler Gai Waterhouse, has a growing number of horses for the 2016 campaign and has already made a bright start, including Gifted Master’s success in the Tattersalls Millions Sprint at Newmarket’s Craven meeting.
After ending last term in 22nd place in the British trainers’ championship – narrowly behind Marco Botti and narrowly ahead of Mick Channon – it would not surprise to see the affable Palmer pushing for a place in the top 10 by the end of this season.
Stats and Form
Lingfield’s turf track has provided Palmer with an impressive 45% winning strike-rate in recent seasons, while:
- Newcastle (38%)
- Wolverhampton (27%)
- Goodwood (21%)
- York and Chelmsford (20%) are also happy hunting grounds for the Kremlin Cottage-based trainer.
Jockey Graham Gibbons has an outstanding 42% strike rate on Palmer’s horses:
- Freddie Tylicki (30%)
- Ryan Moore (29%)
- Pat Smullen (25%)
- William Buick (24%) and Martin Harley (20%) also have had plenty of success for a trainer who is definitely a man to follow.
 racinguk.com, Hugo Palmer reaching for the skies after Galileo Guineas success, 2016
 hugopalmer.com, Hugo Palmer Official Website, 2016