Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michelle Payne has slammed the “chauvinistic” sport of horse racing just minutes after winning the ‘race that stopped a nation’.
The 30-year-old, who is the youngest of 11 children, on Tuesday the first female jockey to win a Melbourne Cup.
Payne’s convincing win on the back of Darren Weir-trained long-shot Prince of Penzance will go down as one of the great rides in the 154-year history of the race.
Michelle Payne was the only female jockey to contest the Cup in 2015 and her horse was unpopular among punters, at odds of about 100-1.
Nevertheless, it powered home in the final straight thanks to a masterly ride from Payne, who kept the six-year-old gelding on the heels of its more fancied rival Trip to Paris before bursting into the lead.
Speaking to the crowd at Flemington after the race, she took aim at the chauvinism within the racing establishment.
“Those who say women aren’t strong enough, get stuffed,” she said.
On the race itself, she said the win was “the kind of thing you dream about”.
“When I won on this horse as a three-year-old, I felt he was a Melbourne Cup horse.”
“Far out, I didn’t think he’d be that strong.
“He just burst to the front and was powering on towards the line.”
Payne told Channel 7 she recently considered retirement after fracturing nine vertebrae in total after a horror year of racing accidents, but family support convinced her to continue racing.
“I had two falls in a year, fractured nine vertebrae all up, and I came home and said to my dad ‘I think that’s me done’.”
She also said she was chuffed to have received a congratulatory call from the prime minister, who said she was a great role model for women.
The Cup-winning jockey hails from Miners Rest, near Ballarat, and is the youngest of 11 children of the racing-mad Payne family.
Her mother died in a car accident before her first birthday, leaving her horse trainer father to raise the children.
As an apprentice in 2004, Payne fell from her horse, fracturing her skull and bruising her brain.
But she recovered from that set back and slowly began to climb the ranks to win her first Group One race in 2009.
She contested her first Melbourne Cup in the same year, finishing 16th.
Prolific Ballarat-based trainer Darren Weir was visibly emotional after winning his first Melbourne Cup, no doubt the sweetest victory of almost 1400 in his trophy cabinet.
“I say to the owners, it’s hard enough to get into the race, let alone win it and just enjoy the day and hope like hell we can run top ten,” he said.
“We did everything possible we could and we had him here in great shape. We thought we were realistically a top 10 chance.”
Stewards crack the whip on bad behaviour
Second-placed jockey jockey Frankie Dettori was slapped with a one-month suspension and a $20,000 fine for careless riding.
The Italian-born rider of Max Dynamite pleaded guilty to the charge.
Placing were not affected by the decision.
Big Orange’s jockey Jamie Spencer was also suspended for 14 meetings.