Ashleigh’s ready to hit the track
Friday, 19th December, 2014
In her own words it has been a “rocky few months” but Ashleigh Camilleri has found a way to keep smiling.
The 23-year-old harness racing driver has spent the past few months preparing for the most significant race of her young career.
Ashleigh will line up in the Leesa Jane McInnes Memorial Pace on Saturday night - held in tribute to her mother, who passed away in August this year.
“Not having her there is going to be a bit tough... but Dad (Tony) has been a massive support and I’d be lost without him,” she said.
“Mum was very popular around harness racing and everyone involved in the race is honoured to be involved.
“It’s a full field of ten horses and you don’t usually get that.
“So it’s a big night for the family and everyone involved.”
Ashleigh has battled many challenges this year after breaking her leg in late-December.
She missed the majority of the season and was rendered immobile for months with her left leg in a ‘moonboot’.
“It was long and boring,” Ashleigh said, adding that she spent the majority of her time cooped up at home.
“The sleep-ins were great but only for a little while.
“It wasn’t the best experience for someone who loves this sort of sport and being outdoors and around horses.
“I couldn’t go down and see my horses at the stables or track.”
When the boot was removed in February after six weeks, the news wasn’t positive.
Ashleigh was told by a specialist that the fracture failed to heal properly.
Fortunately, the remedy was simply to ‘get on with it’ - a much-appreciated notion.
“I got advice from the doctors that it needed to heal on its own,” she said.
“So, under their advice, I slowly started getting back into everything.
“I still have my days where it’s not the best but that was mostly during the colder weather.”
Ashleigh said she queried whether or not she’d return to racing but that thought is now a distant memory.
Alongside Tony, she was out at the racecourse on Wednesday afternoon putting their horses CityScape, The Whitney, and Mattichiello through their paces.
All three will race in the memorial pace, with Ashleigh driving CityScape.
“I’ve driven him plenty of times before,” Ashleigh said.
“I just can’t wait to get out there again... dad has kept pushing me the whole way through this year, which in hindsight was great, otherwise I wouldn’t be here racing again.”
The harness racing fraternity is also holding memorial races for Arthur Basten (race two) and Kerry Haliday (race four).
Broken Hill Harness Racing Publicity Officer Anthony Adams said the night was about reflecting on the contribution of a number of individuals.
“Arthur was a stalwart of harness racing in the stewards’ room and Kerry was involved as a clerk of the course, trainer and driver,” he said.
“The first race is also an appreciation for Trevor Picken, who retired as a steward.”
The track will now be known as the Rocky Baker Memorial Oval Paceway in honour of the late Mr Baker, after Carbine Chemicals-Vetfore jumped on board with sponsorship.
“Of course, Rocky’s kids Jensen and Tarsha are involved with the company, so it’s fantastic to see them help carry on their dad’s legacy,” Adams said.
The first race begins tomorrow night at 8pm.
Full fields for the race will be published in tomorrow’s BDT.