Alena’s the Belle of the Ball

Ladies in Racing - - Contents - Story by Mark Bras­sel. Im­ages by Bradley Pho­tog­ra­phers

Many par­ents are asked the ques­tion but few chil­dren are on the re­ceiv­ing end: “Can I please have a pony?” Alena Skerritt is one of those lucky kids, al­though it took more than a decade be­fore her dream was re­alised. Alena, 22, was born in Mait­land and was raised in New­cas­tle be­fore mov­ing to the NSW Cen­tral Coast when she was 10-years-old and has since re­mained at Gosford. “I al­ways had a pas­sion for horses even be­fore I could walk,” Alena re­called. “When I was six months old my Mum and Nan used to walk me in the pram daily and we would go past a horse in a pad­dock at Lochin­var, which is near Cess­nock. “I was told the horse would al­ways greet me by putting his head into my pram and would nuz­zle and lick me. I used to love it and mum told me I would al­ways gig­gle. So for the next 11 years I was per­sis­tent in want­ing my own pony.” Alena had rid­ing lessons and one morn­ing her dream came true: “It was my birth­day and I went to the arena at a prop­erty where I had my usual les­son. When I ar­rived there I no­ticed a pony named Belle with a red rib­bon tied around her neck. I couldn’t be­lieve it; mum had sur­prised me with my first pony. “I started at­tend­ing Pony Club and Gymkhanas at that prop­erty and did a cou­ple of in­ter-school com­pe­ti­tions, but I would mostly go on trail rides with friends. I even rode bare­back a lot of the time.” The first job Alena had was a school-based trainee­ship with Wy­ong trainer Michael Donoghue. She said, “When I was 16 I was un­sure about the op­por­tu­ni­ties at the time so I com­pleted my HSC and at­tended TAFE. Af­ter school I went straight into an ap­pren­tice­ship as a car spray painter at a smash re­pair place, but af­ter time the dust and chem­i­cals got too much for me. “I went into the night club scene and made money be­ing a DJ at Club Red where I met some great DJS and in­ter­est­ing per­son­al­i­ties, but they were long nights. I was work­ing one night and heard of a track rid­ing op­por­tu­nity at Fred Cow­ell’s place. “I had missed the buzz when I used to ride horses, so I jumped at the chance. Fred said he could see po­ten­tial and of­fered me an ap­pren­tice­ship, so I’ve now been with Fred now for the past three years. “My fam­ily has backed my ca­reer ev­ery step of the way and they all en­joy watch­ing me ride, al­though my par­ents will al­ways be con­cerned of the dan­gers of the oc­cu­pa­tion.” Alena rode her first win­ner as a 20-year-old at Tun­curry-forster in

Moet & Chan­don Spring Cham­pion Stakes Day March last year aboard Bet­ta­bet Red, a horse she now cher­ishes.

Royal Rand­wick Satur­day Oc­to­ber 10 Alena con­tin­ued,Im­ages by “WithoutShane O’niell­doubt Bet­ta­bet Red is my favourite horse, as I’ve won Im­age seven1 – races on her. She is a beau­ti­ful horse to do any­thing with and has a unique char­ac­ter. I have also taken a lik­ing to our ‘town’

Im­age 2 – Myer Fash­ions on the Field MC Nikki Phillips horse Mighty Lucky. Al­though I only ride him track­work, he’s an

Im­age 3 – ab­so­lute plea­sure to ride.”

Im­age 4 – Im­age 5 – With 21 win­ners, (eight at the provin­cials and 13 in the coun­try) to her credit, train­ers Im­age are6 - now #ther­aces start­ing to take no­tice of Alena’s skills: “I have started to pick up more rides now that I have been trav­el­ling al­most any­where to get my name out there”, she said. “I won a race on Salerno at Scone for Paul Perry and it may have opened the door for me, as Mr Perry has since put me on a few more horses. I then won an­other race for him on Im­puesto at Muswell­brook.” A nat­u­ral light­weight, Alena has no prob­lems with her weight and can ride at 50kg. She said, “I’m pretty lucky when it comes to my weight, as I don’t have to worry too much about what I eat. And style­wise, I haven't re­ally mod­elled my rid­ing style on any par­tic­u­lar jockey, in­stead I watch other rid­ers and I just stick to what feels com­fort­able. “I do ad­mire Tye Ang­land, as he has been a very big help when­ever he has at­tended the ap­pren­tice school. He’s a su­per jockey. I just want to keep get­ting more rides and I’d re­ally like to have a crack at the Ris­ing Star Ap­pren­tice Se­ries – now that’s some­thing I’d love to win.”



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