Thornley ready for big opportunity

By Jonny Turner

The experience of handling harness racing stars is set to be a massive asset for junior reinswoman Olivia Thornley when she drives Don’t Stop Dreaming in the Kindergarten Stakes.

Thornley will find herself in a position many young drivers dream of – taking the reins behind a hot favourite from the Mark Purdon and Hayden Cullen stable in a time-honoured group race.

Though she is the rookie of the field in terms of experience, having driven horses like Amazing Dream, Elle Mac and Beyond Words means it’s not completely new territory to her.

“I have been through it all (with Amazing Dream) but it is a whole new ball game when you add in that it is a two-year-old first starter,” Thornley said.

“You are hoping they handle themselves and get around and do everything right.”

“I am really lucky – a two-year-old having his first start in a Group Two, you wouldn’t think many juniors would get that opportunity.”

“I am really grateful to Mark and the owners for letting have the drive.”

Don’t Stop Dreaming has looked both very smart and professional in his three trial wins leading into Thursday’s feature.

Thornley is hopeful he can make bring his best manners to his debut.

“He is a pretty casual fellow around home, nothing much fazes him.”

“So, I am not too worried about how he is going to handle himself.”

“I think he is going to handle himself really well.”

Don’t Stop Dreaming drawing barrier 1 and opening a short, priced favourite effectively forces Thornley’s hand at the start of the Kindergarten Stakes.

The reinswoman is confident her colt has the necessary speed to hold up from the ace draw.

“He is a laid-back horse but when you ask him for something it is there.

“We will see how he is like out of the gate and how he handles everything in his first start but it shouldn’t be a worry to poke out a bit.”
Thornley has had her eye on OK Boomer’s work this week.

Also from the All Stars stable, the two-year-old has shown his fair share of ability in his trials.

The gelding starts from barrier 6 for driver Jonny Cox.

“He is a lovely horse too, he has constantly improved the whole way through his prep and he is not without his show either,” Thornley said.

Mark Purdon is shooting for his fifth consecutive win in the Kindergarten Stakes, but not solely as a trainer.

Purdon co-owns Akuta who was prepared by Hayden Cullen to win last year’s event.

Purdon trained the previous three winners in First Class, Flying Even Better and War Dan Delight.

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