Author(s): HARMS JOHN PAYNE MICHELLE
Michelle Payne rode into history as the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup. She and her 100-to-1 local horse Prince of Penzance took the international racing world by surprise but hers was no overnight success story. Michelle was first put on a horse aged four. At five years old her dream was to ride in the Melbourne Cup and win it. By seven she was doing track work. All of the ten Payne children learned to ride racehorses but Michelle has stayed the distance. She has ridden the miles, done the dawn training, fallen badly and each time got back on the horse. So when she declared that anyone who said women couldn't compete in the industry could 'get stuffed', the nation stood up and cheered. Michelle has the audacity to believe she can succeed against all the odds. Her story is about hope triumphing over adversity, and how resilience and character made a winner.
Michelle Payne entered racing aged 15, winning her first race in Ballarat on a horse trained by her father. Michelle won her first Group One race, the Toorak Handicap at Caulfield Racecourse aboard Allez Wonder on 10 October 2009 and trainer Bart Cummings offered her the ride at the Caulfield Cup the following week. Michelle was only the third female jockey to ride in the Caulfield Cup, one of Australia's most prestigious horse races. This also led her to a ride in the 2009 Melbourne Cup, once again riding Cummings' Allez Wonder. In 2010 Payne rode Yosei to victory in the Thousand Guineas at Caulfield. John Harms is a Melbourne-based writer, historian, and broadcaster. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, The Pearl, and nine editions of The Footy Almanac annual. He appears on ABC TV's Offsiders. He is the editor of the popular sports writing site www.footyalmanac.com.au