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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 May 2006, 12:18 GMT 13:18 UK
Pam bids for Epsom fairytale
By Cornelius Lysaght
BBC racing correspondent

The fairytale 1,000 Guineas success of Speciosa, trained by small-time trainer Pam Sly, has been perhaps the highlight of the Flat racing season so far.

Trainer Pam Sly
You have to enjoy it and live the dream

Trainer Pam Sly
Sly, 62, who prepares a string of around a dozen Flat horses on her farm, near Peterborough, saddled Speciosa to see off some of the biggest names in the sport.

Now the pair are at it again, seeking a second slice of Classic glory in the Vodafone Oaks after a late entry fee of 20,000 was paid.

Staged on the eve of the Derby, and over the identical mile-and-a-half long course, the Oaks (first staged in 1779, so a year older than the Derby) is for fillies only. Jockey Micky Fenton will once again be on board.

On her first visit to Epsom, Pam Sly answered questions about her filly, the course, and her hopes.

Q: So you have decided to pay the 20,000, and go for it.

A: Yes. It's quite a bit of money, but she's won quite a bit now, so all three of us owners can afford it.

Q: What are your first impressions of Epsom?

A: How steep it is in the first two furlongs, and how it keeps climbing for half a mile or so by the look of it. It's quite awesome really. Awesome, yes that's what it is, awesome.

Q: But you have a filly that's pretty awesome at the moment.

A: I'm pretty sure she'll stay a mile and a quarter, and the other two furlongs are a stab in the dark, but you have to gamble at some point in your life.

I didn't really want to go to the Curragh [for the Irish 1,000 Guineas] because it was heavy going, so we've plumped for this one now.

Q: How do you think she'll cope with the famous Epsom challenge?

A: I think that she'll cope with it ok. She's quite a balanced filly, even though she is also quite big, which is a good thing for all the twists and turns.

Q: So the gamble is more on the distance?

A: Yes, yes, it is the distance. But if you look at the pedigree for clues about stamina, on the [all-important] dam's side, there's quite a lot of horses that stay a mile and a half, or even further, like Touching Wood, who won the St Leger [in 1982], so that's certainly encouraging.

Q: You trainers get instincts, so what's your instinct?

A: Yes, I think she'll be ok. In her last three races, she's travelled there right on the bridle, always going well, right to the end.

She's never really come off the bridle, which would indicate to me that she has plenty left in her to last out the longer distance if Micky had to ask her. You just have to hope, don't you, that she will have enough prowess to do it.

Q: And what about you for the last few weeks, what's it been like?

Pam Sly with jockey Micky Fenton and Speciosa after their Newmarket win
Sly, jockey Micky Fenton and Speciosa after their Newmarket win
A: There's been a lot of people that have had a wonderful time.

For me, since she won the Guineas, the pressure's really been off, because it was hardest and most worrying during the winter when I had to get there on the day.

It did feel as though a big cloud had been lifted. From now on, everything is just a bonus.

I can't really say that I have left the ground at all because I've been so busy all the time. It just carries on, but obviously it was wonderful.

Q: You were jump racing the next day weren't you?

A: It was an odd feeling, but a real pleasure, thinking that here I was trying to win a jump race the day after winning a Classic, and becoming the first British woman to win a British Classic.

Q: So with that, and being a "small" trainer, you have flown quite a flag, haven't you?

A: Well, I just hope that it gives everybody else an incentive to have a go. Don't give up, that's the message, really. It can be done even against the bigger people.

Q: And now it sounds as though you are just living the dream.

A: You have to. The dream is to get there, to the Guineas and to the Oaks. You never quite know what's going to happen. She might come down with a cold or prick her foot or do something silly, so you have to live it.

Q: There will be a lot of people supporting Speciosa and yourself all season, so what would you say to them.

A: Simply, you have to enjoy it and - I say it again - live the dream. We're dreaming - and I hope you win a bit of money on her too.

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