HORSE-RACING: Sly horse refuses to be ridden by a man

Pam Sly (left) with jockey Gina Andrews stablelad Brian Drabner and her five-year-old mare Actinpieces.
Pam Sly (left) with jockey Gina Andrews stablelad Brian Drabner and her five-year-old mare Actinpieces.
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Thorney trainer Pam Sly had a winner at Wetherby yesterday (November 23) with a horse that refuses to be ridden by men.

Mare Actinpieces is a five-year-old grey trained by Sly, and she forged clear after the last fence to win the racinguk/daypass Novices’ Chase by nine lengths ahead of the 4-7 odds-on favourite Zeroshadesofgrey.

Regular rider Gina Andrews was in the saddle and Actinpieces has only ever been ridden by 24-year-old Andrews or her younger sister Bridget.

“She’s not too keen on men,” said Sly. “I’ve never had a horse who’s been like this before. If a man went up to her in the yard she’ll put her ears back. It’s a bit weird.”

Gina Andrews, who has ridden for the trainer since she was 16, struck a bond straight away.

“She is temperamental,” admitted Andrews. “She only gives you one chance. You have to get it right the first time or that’s it.”

Sly originally intended to book a male jockey to ride the recalcitrant mare on her hurdling debut last season but was forced to have a change of plan.

“The boys didn’t want to ride her,” said Sly. “They said she was lethal.”

Even Andrews’ brother Jack tried to break the trend and failed.

“When he went to get on her she tried to bite him,” Sly said. “When Gina goes out to get on her she always puts out her hand to let her have a sniff before she gets on. She’s fine.

“There is an old boy, Brian Drabner, who grooms and looks after her every day. She’s all right with him but I think she’s confused because he’s got long hair!”

Actinpieces won at odds of 3-1 yesterday and that made it two wins on the trot for Sly. Bonnet’s Vino won at 22-1 at Market Rasen last week.