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Plucky driver set for spell

Thursday, 2nd January, 2014

Race track vet Dr Guillaume Tabuteau (centre) seeks to calm the distressed Jay Peez Friend while Ashleigh Camilleri (obscured) helps hold the gig steady. PICTURES: Darrin Manuel Race track vet Dr Guillaume Tabuteau (centre) seeks to calm the distressed Jay Peez Friend while Ashleigh Camilleri (obscured) helps hold the gig steady. PICTURES: Darrin Manuel

By Craig Brealey

If Ashleigh Camilleri can win two races on one leg, how will she go with two?

That’s what trots driver Ashleigh Camilleri’s rivals will be wondering until she returns to the track in about six weeks.

Ashleigh broke her left leg in the first race of the night at last Saturday’s meeting at the Memorial Paceway when her horse Kismear clashed with Mark Pelvin’s drive Jay Peez Friend and both were tipped from their gigs.

Although shaken and sore, she jumped back on the sulky and finished second in the next race - and then won the last two races of the night.

Her leg still hurt but she did not think much of it until the next day when she noticed that the pain had not lessened.

A trip to the doctor confirmed that she had broken it and now she’s in plaster up to her knee.

“It was a bit of a rocky start to the season,” said Ashleigh who, at just 22, finished runner-up in the Driver of the Year last season to Cassie Robinson.

“I trained Kismear and Jay Peez Friend so that’s pretty rough, too, getting tipped out by my own horse!” she said.

Ashleigh and her father, Tony, are great contributors to the sport in Broken Hill. They have helped keep it going by owning and training a big stable of trotters in Ryan Street.

Last year their work and that of the faithful trotting fraternity really paid off. The crowds returned to the Memorial Oval and the last meeting of the season on St Pat’s race weekend drew the biggest seen there for many, many years.

Tony also came runner-up to Don Pimm for Trainer of the Year, and Ashleigh and Cassie Robinson were invited drive at Menangle, Penrith, Bathurst and Young in the NSW Harness Racing’s Rising Star competition.

The Camilleri stable was looking forward to another exciting season so having one half of the team in the spelling paddock is a bit of a blow.

“I’m stuck inside and I’m not allowed to move,” said Ashleigh.

“Dad won’t let me out of the house and I haven’t seen my horses for a few days, so I’m not too happy about that,” she said.

But time is on the side of this rising star.

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