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Olivia Thornley took the pressure of driving a $1.30 favourite in her stride to notch her first group race win with Don’t Stop Dreaming’s victory in the Kindergarten Stakes at Wyndham on Thursday.
Thornley gave the Mark Purdon and Hayden Cullen-trained 2yr-old a perfect run in the trail to allow him to dash to a stylish win in the mile feature.
The Prebbleton reinswoman was elated to be able to rack up her first stakes race win and repay the faith Purdon and Cullen had put in her to handle the colt while they were busy preparing Self Assured for his win in $900,000 The Race at Cambridge.
"It’s very special," Thornley said.
"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.
"I’m grateful to Mark and Hayden and the owners, Mark and Dennis Dunford and Ian Dobson, 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," she said.
Thornley had Don’t Start Dreaming in front by the first turn before handing up to his stablemate, third-placegetter OK Boomer.
The junior driver put trust in her colt’s speed and he did not let her down when she angled him into the passing lane.
"I thought my fellow would have the upper hand up the passing lane.
"He’s a pretty casual fellow and you have to keep on top of him.
"As soon as I pulled the plugs and hit the passing lane, he just had a whole lot of gears left," Thornley said.
Don’t Stop Dreaming scored by a length and a quarter at the line over runner-up Da Vinci.
A second talented South Island junior reinswoman put on an outstanding driving display on Thursday.
Sarah O’Reilly turned race 12 into the most exciting of the Kindergarten Stakes day undercard with the way she perfectly rated Mabalene in the lead.
After pressing forward at the start, O’Reilly and the Brent White-trained Mabalene were about eight lengths in front of the field at the bell.
O’Reilly rated the Ashburton mare perfectly as she bowled along in front of the field, going on to score by a massive 13-length margin at the line in a time of 2min 53.5sec.