Payne lands top honour, but no Melbourne Cup ride


History-making Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michelle Payne has landed a top Australian sporting honour, but says she still does not have a ride for next month’s big race.

Payne, 31, joined illustrious national sporting company when she became the first jockey to win ‘The Don’ award at the annual Sport Australia Hall Of Fame dinner in Melbourne on Thursday evening.

Named after cricketer Donald Bradman, prior winners include Ian Thorpe (1999), Cathy Freeman (2000), Cadel Evans (2011), Sally Pearson (2014, 2012) and last year’s recipient Jason Day.

Payne got the nod for producing the most inspired moment in Australian sport in the past year when she became the first woman to win Australia’s 155-year-old Melbourne Cup on Prince of Penzance at Flemington.

She also created headlines when she described her sport as “chauvinistic” and said those who doubted the ability of females to succeed should “get stuffed”.

“I could never have believed everything that has happened since the race, absolutely not in my wildest dreams. It was very much a life changing race,” Payne told Thursday’s gathering.

Payne, who has ridden Prince of Penzance in most of its starts, has reportedly been told she has been dumped as the horse’s jockey for this weekend’s Caulfield Cup, one of the major lead-up races to the Melbourne Cup on November 1.

She is hoping for the chance to line up in another Melbourne Cup but currently has no ride.

“Obviously you never lose hope. Hopefully I will gain some more rides over the Spring carnival — that’s what it’s all about, is getting the opportunities and making the most of it,” she said.

Prince of Penzance will also not be running as he is currently injured and potentially retired.

Payne has also been battling the effects of a fall while racing in May this year when she was widely urged to retire.

“I’ve always been grateful for any luck I’ve had but I think now, more than ever, I am just happy to be healthy and doing what I love. Anything from now is a bonus,” Payne said.

© 2016 AFP

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