Australian jockey Michelle Payne inspired a nation and women all over the world when she won the Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup in 2015, making her the first woman to do so in the Cup’s 155-year history. Aboard 100-1 shot Prince Of Penzance, Michelle made a statement that would resonate with an entire generation: “Women can do anything, and we can beat the world.”
Her honesty in victory will be the legacy of the determined and talented young jockey. Michelle began race riding as a 15-year-old girl, and nine years later she would combine with the legendary trainer Bart Cummings to win the David Jones Toorak Handicap at Caulfield Racecourse aboard Allez Wonder, which was her first Group 1 success. It would be the first of many, and during a stellar 2010-2011 season, Michelle rode Yosei to victory in three Group 1s: the Inglis Sires’ Produce Stakes on Derby Day at Royal Randwick Racecourse, the Schweppes Thousand Guineas at Caulfield, and the Sky Racing Tattersall’s Tiara at Eagle Farm Racecourse.
Having gained national fame after her historical Melbourne Cup victory, Michelle took the opportunity to raise awareness about the difficulties encountered by women in a sports discipline dominated by men. Her career path hasn’t been without difficulties, as she suffered serious race falls and injuries, including brain trauma, broken vertebrae and damaged organs.
She has overcome all setbacks, making a successful return to the saddle in 2016, this time holding a dual-trainer jockey license and becoming the first to train and ride a winner in Australia.
As part of a big year, she assumed the role of Patron of the National Jockeys Trust to help fallen and injured jockeys, and she accepted the greatest sporting award in Australia, the Don Award, at the Sport Australia Hall of Fame awards in recognition of her achievements that inspired a whole nation.