Thornley making ground in junior drivers' premiership race

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk

Sam Thornley has kept the pressure on Carter Dalgety at the top of the junior drivers' premiership with a double at Addington last night.

Driving for his employer Ken Barron, Thornley got favourite Black Mach home in race 3, the Lamb and Hayward Mobile Pace and then upset with rank outsider Dancing Desire, paying $48, in race 5, the Hagley Windows and Doors Mobile Pace.

Coincidentally their wins were virtually a carbon copy of each other. In both instances Thornley manoeuvred his way into the one-one then peeled either just before or at the home turn, winning by just over a length.

"I was a bit worried about being one the second row with Black Mach as he can be a bit lazy so that was a concern but it worked out great," says Thornley.

It was his fourth win in 28 starts and second in a row after also winning at Addington last week.

"And for Dancing Desire it's just a big relief to get her back."

It was the five-year-old mare's seventh win, but her first in 21 starts since April 2023.

"For a while there she was going terrible .... but she's proven her class."

The double takes Thornley to 27 wins in 2024 and consolidates his second place in the junior drivers' premiership, five behind Carter Dalgety. He had one win last night with Ragazzo Major in the Garrards Mobile Pace.

Carter is heading to the USA for six weeks in July - August after winning the Valachi Downs Young Scholarship Award earlier this year. The scholarship awards $15,000 to help individuals under 35 progress their careers in the equine industry.

With him away and three-time champion Sarah O'Reilly now an open driver, Thornley can sense an opportunity.

"I'm not too worried about it but hopefully I can give it a crack," says Thornley, "though Wilson's going good too."

Wilson House is currently two behind Thornley for the year, with 25 wins.

"With the likes of Black Mach, Dancing Desire and Helium we have a nice team for the winter so hopefully we can keep it going."

Thornley also gets a high number of outside drives, having had recent success with the likes of the Chris McDowell-trained Judgement Bay and He's A Bay.

Last night Thornley and Judgement Bay were third in the Woodlands Stud Fillies and Mares Mobile Pace won very impressively by southern visitor Southside Of Heaven.

The Brent McIntyre-trained four-year-old made it three wins from as many starts after earlier successes at Invercargill and Winton.

Driven by Jonny Cox, Southside Of Heaven was left parked but was still too tough to keep her unbeaten record intact.

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