Slattery sitting Pretty

Trainer Andrew Slattery admits he is living the dream as he prepares to saddle Creggs Pipes in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.

The daughter of Rip Van Winkle has been a tremendous servant to her connections over the past three seasons, winning seven of her 22 starts and placing on a further five occasions.

She came up short on her only previous appearance at Group One level in last season’s Matron Stakes at Leopardstown, but having produced a career-best performance to win the Group Two Lanwades Stud Stakes at the Curragh last time out, there are genuine hopes the fairytale could become a reality.

Slattery said: “She’s in great order at the moment, I think she’s as well as we’ve had her all year.

“I think she probably needed her first two runs of the season and she won very easily the last day.

“It’s great just to have a runner in a Group One with a chance. Things like this don’t normally happen to people like us.

“Everything has gone so well in the run-up to the race and it’s just a question of whether she’s good enough now.”

Creggs Pipe has never won over further than an extended mile and faces a mile and a quarter this weekend, but Slattery expects her to rise to the challenge.

“I’m probably the only one that thinks it, but I honestly think she could be ever better over a mile and a quarter than she is over a mile,” said the Cooldine-based trainer.

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“I might be totally wrong, but I have a feeling it might just help her find the extra few pounds she needs to find.

“You look at all the multi-millionaires who want to have runners in Group Ones. We’re only small men and we’re there.

“We’re not afraid to take them on. We’re going in there with nothing to lose.”

Creggs Pipes will need to raise her game if she is to see off two mares who have already struck gold at the highest level in the Dermot Weld-trained Zhukova and John Gosden’s Journey.

Zhukova travelled Stateside to secure her big-race success in the Man o’War Stakes at Belmont in May, but was a long way behind Journey when the pair clashed in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot last October.

Journey made her first appearance since that impressive display in the Coronation Cup at Epsom a month ago and ran with credit to finish fifth behind the brilliant Highland Reel.

Gosden’s five-year-old is one of the three British challengers along with Sir Michael Stoute’s Smart Call, who was fourth in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot last week, and Nezwaah from Roger Varian’s powerful yard.

The latter impressed on her seasonal reappearance in a Listed contest at Ayr and Varian feels she deserves her place in the field.

“Nezwaah has blossomed over the last week or so,” the trainer said on his website www.varianstable.com.

“She is a good-moving filly who is best suited by a sound surface, so I hope the ground continues to dry, and I am looking forward to returning her to the highest level.

“I feel she will be very competitive in Group One company this year.”

Aidan O’Brien saddles Pocketfullofdreams and Raid Goddess.

Joseph O’Brien’s Intricately, the Tony Martin-trained Laganore, Jim Bolger’s Turret Rocks and Santa Monica from Charles O’Brien’s stable complete the 11-strong field.

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