TRAILBLAZING jockey Therese Patton returned to the Warrnambool racetrack for the TAB May Racing Carnival yesterday for the first time in 19 years.
The now-retired rider is a member of the famed Payne family racing dynasty. She rode her first winner at the carnival at the age of 14.
She was trackside with her sister Cathy, also a retired jockey.
“My very first winner was here at Warrnambool in 1985,” she said.
“I was aboard Wraps, trained by Noel Kelly, who was one of the leading trainers at the time.”
Patton followed her sister Brigid into the saddle.
“I rode for about 14 years before retiring,” she said.
“I was coming along when there was a lot of girls starting to ride.”
Patton married former jockey Jason Patton.
Her father, Patrick Payne, is a trainer and Patton said growing up around the horses with 10 siblings meant she was always going to try her hand at riding.
“We were always around the stables,” she said.
“After Brigid’s success, I followed her into it.”
She said her biggest win was aboard Flying Eskimo, taking out the Bendigo Cup.
“It was a real family affair as the horse was trained by dad,” she said.
She was 17 years old at the time and it was her 97th career win.
She was the first female to take out the cup.
Brother and former group 1-winning jockey Paddy Payne jnr saddles up the two favourites, Lord Of The Song and Chaparro, in today’s Grand Annual Steeplechase.
Patton works at Payne jnr’s stable, keeping the bookwork in order.
“I love the carnival,” she said.
“It is so exciting. The Grand Annual is an amazing race to watch. It’s one of my favourite days of racing to watch.”