Michelle Payne has revealed she could not remember winning the Melbourne Cup following her career-threatening fall at Mildura last month.
In a frank and open interview on Radio Sport National, Payne also shed light on the details of her emergency surgery, which saw three-quarters of her pancreas sewn back on after it was severed when it was crushed against her spinal cord.
The 30-year-old said she was very lucky not to become a diabetic – which would have been “a real pain in the arse” – and that she was recovering well.
“I’m doing really well,” she said from her father’s property in Ballarat.
“Obviously it was a pretty big surgery. I was in a lot of pain and pretty sick but it’s amazing how your body can heal.
“The doctor explained it to me…(my horse, Dutch Courage) must have stood on it (my pancreas) and against the spine, it was split in two.
“Thankfully, Marty Smith, the surgeon at (the) Alfred (Hospital) was quick on his feet. (He) saved me from being a diabetic and was able to save the three-quarters (of the pancreas) that was sort of severed off, and sew it to the stomach.
“I’m very grateful to him for saving me a lot of hassle of being a diabetic for the rest of my life.”
When recalling her fall, Payne said she needed to Google to confirm her suspicion that she did indeed triumph in a “big race”.
“I remember falling…I remember thinking I held on too long,” she said.
“Basically then I was too far gone and around the horse’s neck, which put me in a position to fall underneath her where she did run over me.
“That’s all I remember. I don’t actually remember hitting the ground, I must have got knocked out…(then in the ambulance) I was thinking ‘did I win a big race last year?’ just to myself.
“Obviously it was a massive thing..for some reason I just couldn’t remember. I thought I’ll Google it.
“I had my phone on me in the ambulance and it was pretty nice to win the Melbourne Cup a second time. I was pretty happy with myself (laughs).”
Payne said she is now wearing a ‘binder brace’ to protect herself against further injury – but that she was able to resume minor physical activity as she weighs up her riding future.
“They (doctors) said day five to seven are the most important days,” she added.
“It’s just the rest in the next four weeks which is for the scarring down my stomach through the muscle, they said big risk of getting a hernia if you push it too far too soon.
“They seem to be much more concerned about that (potential hernia) than the actual pancreas, so that says to me they’re pretty confident.”
Payne, who added that she will explore training opportunities in the horse industry, and that progress with her movie was ‘coming along’, said she remains undecided if she will retire.
“As you can imagine, (my family are) pretty keen for me to look at doing something else,” she said.
“When I started feeling better, (I thought) that I would definitely make a comeback but at the moment I’m just weighing up my options and just having a good think about it.
“That (riding Prince of Penzance in the 2016 Melbourne Cup) would be the driving force to get back. It would be a real shame, not to ride him and be riding, I would find that devastating.
“That’s definitely, 100 per cent, going to be a telling factor.
“I’ve made contact with a physio who helped me back from when I fractured my scull…about helping me getting back to riding and training – if I do decide to go that way.”