Michelle Payne a rider first and foremost

13-Michelle Payne a rider first and foremost

By Caryl Williamson


(Australian Associated Press)

Born into a racing family, Michelle Payne’s destiny was to be a jockey.

But never in her wildest dreams did she think she would be the one among her siblings to win the Melbourne Cup.

The youngest of 10 children, seven who became jockeys including Patrick, considered one of the finest stylists in the saddle in his hey day, Michelle admits it hasn’t always been easy.

And after she won Tuesday’s Cup on the Darren Weir-trained Prince Of Penzance, a 100-1 chance, she delivered a message to those who doubted her.

“I can’t say how grateful I am (to the people who helped me), and I want to say to everyone else, get stuffed, because women can do anything and we can beat the world,” Payne said.

“I was always going to be a jockey. Racing is in my blood.

“But often I will get taken off a horse because I’ve been unlucky on one and the owners then get one of the guys.

“Then they ride it and don’t win and it’s just ‘well they were unlucky’ and they stay on.

“It’s amazing to win the Melbourne Cup and Darren has supported me and kept me on this horse for the race even though not all the owners might have wanted me.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull phone Payne to congratulate her after the race while former PM Julia Gillard tweeted: “Michelle Payne rides into history & becomes the 1st woman jockey to win the Melbourne Cup. Great going Michelle!-JG?”

Payne shared the win with her whole family, including her brother Stevie, who works at Weir’s Ballarat stable and was centre stage as the one of two handlers for Prince Of Penzance at Flemington.

He was also the one who picked up No.1 at the barrier draw on Saturday night and declared the horse would win.

Stevie is the second youngest of the Payne children and also loves his racing but could never ride because he has Down Syndrome.

“Stevie is such a massive part of the stable and can do anything anyone else can do,” Michelle said.

“We have always been so close. Because we were the two youngest we got left to play together.

“I never thought I’d be as good as my sisters and Paddy never won a Melbourne Cup so it’s an amazing feeling.”

So close are Michelle and Stevie Payne, they will be working even closer together next year.

With new rules to come into place next season allowing jockeys to hold dual training and riding licences, she plans to expand her talents.

“I always thought if I won the Melbourne Cup, I’d retire,” she said.

“But with the dual licences coming in I can do both.

“So often I can’t ride the horses the way I want to because you have to keep people happy and ride to instructions.

“Bart (Cummings) showed there is an art in horses and I think I can do both.”

Always a forward thinker, Cummings, who died two months ago, gave Payne her first Group One win in the 2009 Toorak Handicap with Allez Wonder, his 254th.

Cummings won 12 Melbourne Cups, Payne was still pinching herself over her first.

“I couldn’t believe it a hundred metres out when I got the run through,” she said.

“I’ve won the Melbourne Cup.”

And while punters might have been reeling, Stevie had the last laugh.

“I had 10 each way on him,” he said.


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