FROM a humble beginning with a trainer at Fairfield Showground in New South Wales, Tahnee Camilleri is now mixing it with the best on the big stage in North America.
Although she mainly focuses on her Aussie imports, it is American-bred three-year-old Dancin Lou which is taking Camilleri on the most incredible journey.
After winning his elimination of the Breeders’ Crown in a slick time of 1:50.1, Dancin Lou has qualified for the $600,000 Final to be run at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Dancin Lou will go around at approximately 1.12pm AEDST on Sunday in race eight from barrier four.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” said Camilleri who has been overwhelmed by the many functions associated with the race.
For someone who didn’t grow up in harness racing, Camilleri has most certainly made her mark.
Starting out at Fairfield after moving from the country to the city, she was driven to the sport by her love for horses and required her “horse fix” after having to sell her own due to the family move.
After a few years working as a stablehand, she was approached by trainer Stuart Hunter, who had been looking to send horses to the states. Fascinated by the prospect, Camilleri jumped at the opportunity and so began her love affair with American racing.
During her first stint holding a trainer’s license in 2009, Camilleri had 34 starters for two winners but she had been bitten by the bug and was determined to get back.
Proving she is a woman of many talents, Camilleri also practiced law for five years before eventually putting it on the back burner to chase her dreams and fulfil her passion, knowing she can come back to law if required.
Based in Queensland for many years, Camilleri also had a short stint in Sydney where she trained six winners before heading back North.
Still hankering to be in America, Camilleri headed back over to the ‘States’, settling in Jersey where she began to fill her stable with Aussie imports such as Firebby, Sams A Champ and Bronski Mackenzie to name a few.
Recently, Camilleri packed up her stable and headed to Lexington to provide Dancin Lou the opportunity to race there in which he thrived and began their Breeders’ Crown journey.
“He’s a trainer’s dream,” Camilleri said. “He’s well bred, has wonderful confirmation and doesn’t wear a boot!
“He can win from the lead, first over or off a helmet. There’s no chink in his armour”
When asked about her thoughts heading into the race, Camilleri said: “He’s coping really well, racing out of detention no longer unsettles him. He’s matured over the season and is very easy to work with. He deserves his spot in the race.”
“His qualifier was a tough field, it had the North American Cup winner and the Meadowlands Pace winner. Going in I was happy if he could run top five but was surprised at how easy he won.
“I’m looking forward to the Final, he’s had a great week and is feeling good so I’m sure he’ll run a good race”
Dancin Lou will be driven by another Australian-born success story, Andy McCarthy.
- TIARN SUTTON