Thornley's golden run continues
Canterbury junior driver Sam Thornley has capped off a productive last few weeks with his 50th success in the sulky.
Earlier this month he was runner-up at the Australasian Young Drivers' Championships in Victoria. And then yesterday at Rangiora he reined Madam Ruler to her first win in the Margaret and Morris Vermeulen Memorial Pace.
"It was a big thrill getting there - especially on the old man's horse," Thornley told Harness Racing Unhinged's Nigel Armstrong post-race.
Trained by father Robin Thornley, Madam Ruler was quick off the arm and led initially before getting the trail behind Secret Cocktail. In the home straight the four-year-old Sir Lincoln mare spaced her rivals to record her maiden victory in 12 starts by more than a length.
It was Thornley's 50th win from 665 starts after having his first with Copperhead Rose in August 2019.
Among those he thanked for helping him get there was Canterbury trainer Robbie Holmes.
"I used to go to his place every school holidays for 5-6 years .. learned to drive fast work there."
"He's a great person and he always tries to help everyone out .. he's always chill even if you stuff up."
A fortnight ago Thornley was on the verge of another milestone.
He led the Australian Young Drivers' Championship going into the final night at Melton, only to be beaten by eventual winner Tayla French on an outsider, paying $77.
He ended up second of the nine drivers, after nine heats at four different meetings around the state.
"My first three drives were all winners and it went downhill from here but it was a big win to be there anyway."
As for future goals - two stand out.
He wants to train his first winner. So far he's taken just three to the races and is yet to get to the winner's circle.
And then there's a matter of sibling rivalry.
"I'd like to drive a Group 1 - I've got to catch Olivia now."
Sister Olivia Thornley drove her first Group 1 on Grand Prix day at Addington on December 4 when No Matter Wat took out the IRT New Zealand Oaks.
What a December it's been for the Thornleys.