The Face Of Weetwood has been an exciting addition to Toowoomba Turf Club’s gala race event with an impressive list of ambassadors having already added their touch of glamour to Clifford Park’s week of activities.
That growing tradition continues next week when former apprentice jockey Alex Patis swaps her work-riding saddle for some glitz and socialising as the 2023 Face Of Weetwood.
Alex’s racing involvement began in her junior pony club and show jumping days before steadily progressing to the track through her father’s interest in racing. She is now settling into Toowoomba life with fiance Les “Bubba” Tilley, but not before experiencing an exciting apprentice journey where she rubbed shoulders with some of Australian racing’s elite names.
“My dad loved to buy race horses and my interest in racing grew from going to the races with him of a Saturday to taking up riding,” Alex said.
“My parents decided when I was 16 to send me to Brent Stanley in Victoria to learn the ropes. I learned so much during that time and I was the only female out of five people to get accepted into the Melbourne Apprentice Academy. I was also in the first group to work with Darren Gauci which was another thrill.
“Like everyone else, you want to be the best and I was lucky enough to learn what I was able to from great riders like Brent and Darren.”
Alex later transferred to Tasmania where she rode for trainers like Adam Trinder on her way to winning a Tasmanian premiership before returning to Queensland.
“I had been away from home long enough and had ticked a lot of boxes so I decided it was time to come back and settle again in Queensland,” Alex said.
“I’ve been lucky enough to ride horses like The Odyssey, Kisukano, Miss Hipstar and Dusty Tycoon so there have been a lot of highpoints along the way.
“But we are looking to make our home now in Toowoomba where I’m riding work for Tony and Maddysen Sears who I served some of my apprenticeship with. I’m also looking to move into the racing social media business where I can help trainers manage the social media side of their stables.”
Alex’s Face appearances begin at Monday’s Weetwood Golf Day before attending Tuesday’s Breakfast With The Stars, Wednesday’s public barrier draws and Friday’s Weetwood Calcutta with special guest Corey Brown. Her week climaxes with a full day of activities at Saturday’s Weetwood race day.
“Being able to represent the club as the Face Of Weetwood is something I was really keen to be involved in and I’m really looking forward to the whole week. I think one of the biggest negatives about being a working jockey is you get well dressed to go to the race, but 10 minutes after you arrive at the track you have to take your nice clothes off and put on your work gear,” Alex said.
“It will be nice to be able to stay well dressed for a change and enjoy the full social experience.”
By Glen McCullough