Damien Thornton’s return to Victorian racing has gone better than he expected and the emerging young jockey is on the verge of riding a century of winners in a season for the first time.
Thornton, who also had a stint riding in NSW during his apprenticeship, spent 14 months in South Australia riding for the Tony McEvoy stable before making the move back home to Victoria last September.
The 22-year-old has continued to ride a host of winners across the state this season and a victory at Ballarat on Thursday took his nationwide tally for 2017/18 to 98.
He has rides at Swan Hill on Friday and has a book of eight rides at Flemington on Saturday, including promising two-year-old filly Propelle who is the early favourite for the Eugene Gorman Handicap (1100m).
“It would be the best season I’ve had,” Thornton said.
“I’m not far off breaking the 100 mark so that would be a good result if I can do that.
“I’m still looking to rebuild after moving back from Adelaide and trying to ride as many winners as I can, but I didn’t expect to get this many so quick.
“(Riding 100 winners) wasn’t a goal initially but it became a goal half-way through the season.”
Thornton’s previous best tally of overall winners in a season was 68 in 2016/17 and he recently rode his 400th career winner.
Six have been metropolitan winners in Melbourne, including one at Moonee Valley last Saturday, and he is hoping to add to that tally at Flemington and build on it for the rest of this season and next season.
Propelle, a convincing last-start winner of a maiden at Sale at her second start, was the $3.80 favourite on Thursday and could get Thornton off to a good start in Saturday’s opening race.
“She was a good winner last start at Sale,” the jockey said.
“I haven’t ridden her yet but just watching her she looks like she’s a really nice filly.
“I’ve got a couple of nice rides (on Saturday). I think she’s probably the best of them. Hopefully it will be a good day.”