Kentuckiana Lodge junior driver Sarah O’Reilly reached a special milestone with a horse special to her at Addington on Thursday night.
Sarah notched her 100th career win with Sugar Me, a former problem child who is reaching his potential thanks to the help of his driver.
The milestone victory continued Sarah’s outstanding season, in which she has won 51 races.
The 21-year-old admitted she never dreamt that getting a half century of wins was possible.
“It is pretty amazing, I have had a super season, I have had 51 winners now," Sarah said.
“I never thought I could ever get that many in a season.”
Sarah has played an important part in Sugar Me reaching his potential.
Thursday night’s win was the three-year-old’s third in just five starts with his only two defeats resulting in second placings.
Sugar Me didn’t look capable of putting that kind of record together in the early stages of his education.
After proving a difficult horse and testing Cran and Chrissie Dalgety’s patience, the trainers started winning the pacer over with some key involvement from Sarah.
Cran Dalgety watched on with pride from across the Tasman where he is looking after stable star Krug and he praised O’Reilly for her work with Sugar Me.
“Sugar Me was a bit of a bad boy for quite a long time,” Cran said.
“Larry Karr bought him at the yearling sales and he has been very patient as we tried to win the battle to get the horse's mind on the job.”
“Sarah has played a huge part in getting him to the races.”
“She has done a lot of great work with him, she rides him in the afternoons.”
“The horse’s attitude has completely changed and she deserves a lot of credit for that.”
O’Reilly has become a vital part of the Kentuckiana Lodge team and Cran is delighted with the strides she has made in the sulky and with her work training the team.
“Sarah is a very big part of our stable, she is a hard worker and has a passion for the horses,” Cran said.
“She has got great patience and great judgement for someone so young.”
“It is a pleasure to have her in our team and we get a big kick out of seeing her win races.”
“Naturally it's a thrill when she does it in our colours but we love to see her doing well with her outside drives as well.”
Sugar Me’s win took Cran to 1299 New Zealand wins.
With the way the team is going he may be celebrating his 1300th before he gets home from Australia with Krug.
- By Jonny Turner