Win sets up Thornley’s big week

By Jonny Turner

Sam Thornley hopes his win with I Dream Of Jeannie at Wingatui on Friday is the start of big things to come.

Thornley gave the Sam Smolenski trained trotter a sweet trip in midfield before she unleashed a brilliant finish, making light work of the rising Wingatui home straight.

And when the mare held out runner-up Tweedledee, she proved all of Thornley’s pre-race calculations were spot on.

“I thought the race would come down to the two of them and I thought she might just have too much speed for him,” Thornley said.

“He is a not a bad horse Tweedledee, but that is the way it worked out.”

“Sam (Smolenski) was really confident before the race, he thought he had her spot on and she went super.”

Thornley has a massive week ahead of him on both sides of the Tasman.

The reinsman will take his first drive in a Group One race when partnering Sunny Louis in the New Zealand Trotting Derby at Addington on Sunday.

Thornley will then head to Victoria to compete in next week’s Australasian Young Drivers Championship.

The nine-heat series will be held across five meetings with the final heat to be run on Interdominion Grand Final night at Melton.

“I am really looking forward to it, it was great just to be selected.”

“I didn’t think I was going to get in, but to get in through the Junior Champs was great – that has been my goal for the whole season, really.”

“That was my 30th win for the season today, everything has been going good, but it helps when you have nice horses to drive.”

Thornley hopes he can make a strong start to the series when partnering a New Zealand bred who has recently touched down in Australia.

“I’ve drawn Outlaw Man on the first night and then I have drawn him again the next night.”

“He has been racing Copy That over here and he is in a low rated race, so hopefully we can make a good start to it.”

Thornley is part of a New Zealand squad that includes Sarah O’Reilly and Crystal Hackett.

O’Reilly was also in the winner’s circle at Wingatui on Friday with Kohli Trouble.

The reinswoman had the Brent and Tim White trained trotter in front throughout to set up her 63rd victory of 2022.

Win 64 came when O’Reilly drove Fast Whispering to victory for trainer Noel Taylor.


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