Michelle Payne hopes historic Melbourne Cup win proves pivotal for female jockeys

Michelle Payne hopes her landmark victory aboard rank outsider Prince Of Penzance in the Emirates Melbourne Cup will open more doors for female jockeys in the future.
Michelle Payne hopes historic Melbourne Cup win proves pivotal for female jockeys

Payne became the first lady rider to win the two-mile Group One at Flemington as the Darren Weir-trained Prince Of Penzance held off Willie Mullins’ Irish raider Max Dynamite by half a length on Tuesday morning.

Payne, who has partnered Prince Of Penzance throughout his career, was eager to thank leading handler Weir for his support in what she considers a “chauvinistic sport”.

“To think that Darren Weir has given me a go, and it’s such a chauvinistic sport,” she said.

“I know some of the owners were keen to kick me off, and John Richards and Darren stuck strongly with me, and I put in all the effort I could and galloped him all I could because I thought he had what it takes to win the Melbourne Cup — and I can’t say how grateful I am to them.

“I want to say to everyone else, ‘get stuffed’, because women can do anything and we can beat the world.

“I know it’s a male dominated sport and people don’t think we’re strong enough. It’s about so much more than that, you’ve got to get a horse in a rhythm, be patient.

“I’m so pleased to win and hopefully it will mean people give more female jockeys a go.”

The Payne family are well known in Australia as Michelle is one of eight siblings to pursue a career in the saddle, with her brother Patrick also now a trainer.

Another of Payne’s brothers Stevie, who has Down’s Syndrome, works for Weir and led up Prince Of Penzance for his big-race victory, making it a truly memorable family occasion.

But it certainly not been an easy road for Ballarat-based Payne though, both on and off the track.

Her mother Mary died in a car accident when Payne was just six months old leaving her father Paddy, a former jockey and trainer, to raise the children alone.

Yesterday marked a fifth Group One win for Payne but those kind of pretensions looked a distant dream after a heavy fall in 2004 left her nursing a fractured skull and bruised brain.

Payne battled back to return to the saddle but soon suffered another fall, breaking her wrist in the process. Her misfortune prompted the authorities to grant her an extra three months of her apprenticeship to allow her to ride out her claim.

Payne brought her mount with a perfectly-timed run down the middle of the track as Frankie Dettori struggled to find racing room on Max Dynamite and got going all too late.

Weir added: “This is a lifetime dream come true. I’ll enjoy it with these blokes (the owners and staff) for sure. I can’t thank them enough and this is the most unbelievable thing to happen to anyone.

“It all started with this dream to win a Melbourne Cup and Sandy McGregor, a mate of mine, offered to put the money up, and the rest is history.

“He’d had two joint surgeries, then when he was about to come back into work he got a twisted bowel and a colic operation – what an amazing horse.”

After the disappointment of just missing out on a victory that would have capped a stellar year, there was also a further sting in the tail for Dettori, who was banned for one month and fined 20,000 for careless riding.

He said: “It was a bit unfortunate that I couldn’t get the split when I wanted, but that’s racing.”

The result was slightly overshadowed by what proved to be a career-ending injury for the Ed Dunlop-trained Red Cadeaux, who was pulled up in his fifth attempt at the Australian prize.

A Racing Victoria statement read: “RV can confirm that diagnostics undertaken on Red Cadeaux at the University of Melbourne Equine Centre at Werribee this afternoon show the horse has sustained a fracture to his medial sesamoid in his left fore fetlock.

“The horse is comfortable with his leg in a splint and the fracture is stable.

“Dr Chris Whitton from the University of Melbourne advised that the injury is not currently life threatening, however the horse will not race again.

“Trainer Ed Dunlop confirmed that Red Cadeaux would be retired .”

Dunlop’s other runner Trip To Paris was beaten two lengths into fourth with Michael Bell’s Big Orange fifth, and his jockey Jamie Spencer was also handed a 14-meeting ban for careless riding.

Quest For More was ninth for Roger Charlton after racing prominently while Snow Sky was squeezed for room in the closing stages, with Ryan Moore having to snatch up his mount, eventually finishing last of the 23 finishers with Saeed bin Suroor’s Sky Hunter a place in front of him. The Aidan O’Brien-trained pair of Bondi Beach and Kingfisher failed to figure, finishing 16th and 19th respectively.

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