Michelle Payne’s barrier-breaking win

A woman has won Australia’s most famous horse race for the first time, declaring “we can beat the world”, writes John Stensholt.

Michelle Payne had a clear message to deliver after becoming the first female jockey to win a Melbourne Cup on Tuesday, when she rode 100-1 outsider Prince of Penzance to a narrow victory.

"I want to say to everyone else ‘get stuffed', because women can do anything and we can beat the world," Payne yelled.

The 30-year-old had called horse racing "a chauvinistic sport". But she praised trainer Darren Weir and a part-owner of Prince of Penzance, Victorian agriculturalist John Richards, for backing her.

"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," she said.

Weir praised Payne after the race. "She's a great rider ... and not everyone is keen to give her a go in [that] sort of race," he said. "But she does a lot of work around the scenes ... and it's great to reward her. What an amazing horse as well. He had a beautiful run [today] and it's an unbelievable feeling."

The youngest of 10 children, Payne is from a family of jockeys, including her father Paddy, and rode her first winner as a 15-year-old in Ballarat. Her brother, Stephen, was born with Down’s syndrome and is Prince of Penzance's strapper.

Before her win in the $6.2 million Melbourne Cup on Tuesday, Payne had won four group 1 races. But she rode Prince of Penzance home in a huge upset, beating French horse Max Dynamite, owned by British banker Rich Ricci, and Criterion.


"We travelled quite strong the whole way, he didn't get to rest, but he was still in a rhythm and ... then he got into the straight and he burst clear. It was unreal," she said after the win.

I'd run this race in my mind a lot of times and it's a great feeling to win.

Victoria Racing Club director Katherine Burke said Payne was "a terrific girl and a wonderful young woman and fantastic person".

Racing Victoria chief executive Bernard Saundry said Payne was an ideal role model for aspiring jockeys. "This is a history-making moment," he said. "A fairytale."

Prince of Penzance part-owner Mark Hall, a self-employed accountant and financial planner from the Melbourne suburb of Werribee, said the horse had shown resilience after recovering from illness this year.

"He almost died in February through a bout of colic," he said. "But we nursed him back and here we are. I was never a gambler and this was a just a bit of fun. Well, it has turned into a hell of a lot of fun."

Crowd favourite Red Cadeaux, which finished second three times in the previous four years, broke down near the finishing line and had to be taken for veterinary treatment at the Werribee racecourse after the race. Pre-race favourite Fame Game, ridden by Hong Kong-based Australian jockey Zac Purton, finished 13th.

This article was originally published on afr.com on November 3, 2015.

Photo credit: Damian White/Fairfax Syndication