Michelle Payne became the first woman jockey to win the $6.2 million Melbourne Cup yesterday on 100-1 outside Prince of Penzance.
It was a remarkable achievement, especially for a 7000 race veteran who’s battled chauvinism in her sport, including some of the owners who didn’t want her on the horse yesterday, and she let them know how she felt after winning.
But there’s also a deeper, beautiful story behind a sport that, whilst capturing the national imagination like nothing else, also offends animal rights activists, especially after veteran favourite Red Cadeaux pulled up lame today.
It’s a story of family and love.
Payne lost her mother when she was just six months old. Her sister – eight of the 10 Payne children who became jockeys – Brigid, died aged 36 in 2007 having fallen twice in her racing career.
Her brother Stevie has Down Syndrome and was integral to the success of Prince of Penzance, working as the horse’s strapper and spending a decade in the stables of trainer Darren Weir. He shares a house in Ballarat with his sister and on Saturday, pulled No. 1 from the barrier draw for the horse.
You don’t have to be a fan of horse racing to look at the Payne family story and know it’s something both deserved and wonderful.
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