Thornley Gets First Group Win

Thornley Gets First Group Win

Bruce Stewart

14th April 2022

Junior driver Olivia Thornley was handed a big task today at the Wyndham Harness meeting, but she handled it like a seasoned pro.

A young driver handling a two year old from the all conquering All Stars stable in the Group Two race who had a mountain of money on him – it doesn’t get any bigger.

“I’m grateful to Mark (Purdon) and Hayden (Cullen) and the owners to be able to drive a horse of his quality. He’s quite highly rated in our barn and I was lucky enough to get the drive,” Thornley said.

Don’t Stop Dreaming and Olivia Thornley heading into the birdcage

From barrier one Thornley was able to lead early with Don’t Stop Dreaming in the 1609 metre contest.

“He didn’t want to score up behind the gate to start with so there’s still a fair bit for him to learn,” she said.

At the start line

Just after the start with Thornley just off the arm on the inside

With 1000 metres to run stablemate OK Boomer was sent forward by driver Jonny Cox to take the lead.

“I wasn’t too worried. I thought my fella would have the upper hand up the passing lane. He’s a pretty casual fella and you have to keep on top of him.”

Once in the passing lane Don’t Stop Dreaming let down nicely to beat a late charging Da Vinci by a length and a quarter with OK Boomer hanging on to run third. The Black Flash finished off his race nicely for fourth.

“As soon as I pulled the plugs and hit the passing lane, he just had a whole lot of gears left.”

At the finish

Thornley has driven twenty five winners in a five season career and today’s win in the Kindergarten Stakes was her first group winner.

“It’s very special. To have that status of winning a group race. I’m happy to be able to do that. He did it pretty easy in the finish.”

Back to the birdcage

Winning cover under control

Winner garland (which I made her wear!!!)

Thornley has missed the horse’s build up to the Group Two feature, having been in Auckland for the past six weeks looking after the All Stars team in the build up to tonight’s ‘The Race’.

She’s been working at the Rolleston barn for just over five years and is enjoying her role there.

“It’s really good. Given the responsibility of looking after the team in Auckland and travelling to Aussie. It’s a huge responsibility but it’s a thrill to be learning off them.”

And after today’s win Thornley thinks Don’t Stop Dreaming should win some more races.

“I think he’ll go a fair way. He’s got a lot of versatility and he’s still quite green.

Don’t Stop Dreaming was bought at the 2021 NZB Standardbred Sales in Christchurch by The All Stars Stable for $250,000.

This was the first time since 2006 the Wyndham feature has been run at Group Two status and the $50,000 stake was the highest in the race’s sixty two year history.

All Stars has won all but one Kindergarten races in the past ten years. Brookland Brawler for Robert Dunn broke their stranglehold when he won in 2017.