Payne becomes first female winner at Melbourne Cup

Jockey Michelle Payne crosses the line on Prince of Penzance to become the first female jockey to win a Melbourne Cup. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
Jockey Michelle Payne crosses the line on Prince of Penzance to become the first female jockey to win a Melbourne Cup. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
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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.

Payne became the first woman rider to win the two-mile Group One at Flemington as the Darren Weir-trained Prince Of Penzance, a 100-1 shot, held off Willie Mullins’ Irish raider Max Dynamite by half a length 
yesterday morning.

I can’t say how grateful I am to them [owner John Richards and trainer Darren Weir]. I want to say to everyone else, ‘get stuffed’, because women can do anything and we can beat the world

Michelle Payne

Payne, who has partnered Prince Of Penzance throughout his career, was eager to thank leading handler Weir, right, 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 told Channel Seven. “I know some of the owners were keen to kick me off, but John Richards [owner] and Darren stuck strongly with me. 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.

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

Payne 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.

“Prince of Penzance 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 told www.racing.com: “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 to 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.

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 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.