Thornley answers northern call

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk

With a shortage of junior drivers in the north, Canterbury reinswoman Gemma Thornley has answered the call to head to Cambridge Raceway on Thursday to drive in the Revell Douglas Memorial Junior Driver Series Mobile Pace (2200m).

Thornley has come up trumps in the ballot, being assigned undefeated pacer Wild Card.

The Arna Donnelly-trained six-year-old has won both of his starts to date and looks to be a strong chance of adding to that tally despite drawing the outside of the eight-horse field.

Thornley is excited to head north and take part in the series.

“It is a pretty cool opportunity to head up there and have a drive,” Thornley said.

“There are not as many junior drivers up there so Harness Racing New Zealand have asked a couple of us South Island junior drivers to head up there.”

“Wild Card is two from two, so hopefully his form line can continue.

“I haven’t quite yet talked to David (Butcher, driver) how to drive him. It looks like he could go alright in that field.”

Thornley said the series is also a good opportunity to remember Revell Douglas, who was a great supporter of young talent within the industry.

“I never met him but I have heard he was a big supporter of the junior drivers, so it is quite cool to go up there and compete in the series,” Thornley said.

While Thornley has just the one drive at Cambridge, she is looking forward to heading to Motukarara Raceway on Sunday where she will have three drives.

Thornley will steer Nordic Prince in the Crate & Barrel Leeston Trot (2170m) and Janarty in the Chris Jones – Bayleys Real Estate Pace (2170m) for Ashburton trainer Steve Lock.

She will also partner debut winner Renko in the Selwyn District Council Junior Drivers Mobile Pace (2000m) for trainer Zane Gregg.

“If Nordic Prince carries on like he has in his last couple of starts he will be thereabouts for a place,” Thornley said.

“Renko has had one start for one win. He exceeded our expectations with the first race so we are still playing it by ear. There are a couple of handy ones in that field so hopefully he will hit the line strongly.”

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