Michelle Payne's call on Melbourne Cup winner amid sad development for iconic jockey

The only female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup is stepping away from riding.

Michelle Payne.
Michelle Payne is retiring from riding after the Melbourne Cup. Image: Getty

Michelle Payne has backed red-hot favourite Vauban to win the Melbourne Cup, with the trail-blazing jockey preparing to end her vaunted riding career. The 38-year-old will retire from riding early next year but will continue training, devoting her attention to stayers.

"It's hard to keep in shape for racing competitively," she told Stellar Magazine recently. "It's a lot of work, both physically and mentally. But I've ridden really well this year because I see an end in sight.

"I'm really motivated. My body is feeling great. I've got a really nice young team of horses that have been racing well and I'm just enjoying it while it lasts."

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Speaking at the start of the Melbourne Cup carnival, the 2015 winner said: "It's been something that I've obviously been thinking about and had on my mind for the past sort of eight years since winning the Melbourne Cup, but just wanted to wait till the right time. I've got some really nice horses at home that I want to ride into the autumn but this carnival does feel different because it's sort of an end of an era for me."

Michelle Payne, pictured here after winning the Melbourne Cup in 2015.
Michelle Payne made history when she won the Melbourne Cup in 2015. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

She became a household name in 2015 when she steered 100-1 chance Prince of Penzance to victory in the race that stops the nation, becoming the only female jockey to win the iconic event in its long history. "It's amazing to think that one race can change your life as much as the Melbourne Cup has changed mine," she said. "It's incredible to think what one three-minute race has done for my life, and the movie and the opportunities I've been able to take from that is mind-blowing."

The 38-year-old Payne said she knew she had a special horse in Prince of Penzance and that everything in his Cup preparation had gone their way. "You need to have the right horse but you need to have the perfect preparation as well," she said.

"They've got to be peaking at the right time. It was amazing with him because in the lead-up in the week before, everything just seemed to be falling into place. He was flying and his final gallop on the Friday before running in the Cup was the best he'd ever worked in his life and thankfully it all worked out for me."

Michelle Payne makes prediction on Melbourne Cup winner

The champion jockey said her pick for this year's race is Vauban. The French-bred, Irish-trained gelding is the short-price favourite to take out the Cup for shrewd veteran trainer Willie Mullins, who also prepared Max Dynamite when Payne beat him into second in 2015.

"I like Vauban," Payne said. "I was really blown away by his effort when I saw him at Royal Ascot and Willie Mullins has obviously come very close.

"He finished second with Max Dynamite the year Prince won it. I'm sure he's definitely keen to take the Cup home and he looks like he's got the right horse so he's my pick, but obviously, as always in the Cup, it's very open."

Payne said More Felons would be her choice if she had to pick a 'roughie' to salute in the Cup. "If she can slot in with a bit of cover and have a bit of luck, she's in the right shape," she told SEN radio.

Michelle Payne, pictured here with the Melbourne Cup.
Michelle Payne with the Melbourne Cup at Flemington Racecourse. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Melbourne Cup field:

  1. GOLD TRIP (2) T: Ciaron Maher & David Eustace J: James McDonald 58.5kg

  2. ALENQUER (9) T: Michael Moroney J: Damien Oliver 56.5kg

  3. WITHOUT A FIGHT (16) T: Anthony & Sam Freedman J: Mark Zahra 56.5kg

  4. BREAKUP (18) T: Tatsuya Yoshioka J: Kohei Matsuyama 55kg

  5. VAUBAN (3) T: Willie Mullins J: Ryan Moore 55kg

  6. SOULCOMBE (4) T: Chris Waller J: Joao Moreira 53.5kg

  7. ABSURDE (8) T: Willie Mullins J: Zac Purton 53kg

  8. RIGHT YOU ARE (15) T: Ciaron Maher & David Eustace J: John Allen 53kg

  9. VOW AND DECLARE (19) T: Danny O'Brien J: Billy Egan 53kg


  11. ASHRUN (11) T: Ciaron Maher & David Eustace J: Kerrin McEvoy 51.5kg

  12. DAQIANSWEET JUNIOR (12) T: Phillip Stokes J: Daniel Stackhouse 51.5kg

  13. OKITA SOUSHI (20) T: Joseph O'Brien J: Dylan Gibbons 51.5kg

  14. SHERAZ (22) T: Chris Waller J: Beau Mertens 51.5kg

  15. LASTOTCHKA (21) T: Mick Price & Michael Kent (Jr) J: Craig Williams 51kg

  16. MAGICAL LAGOON (7) T: Chris Waller J: Mark Du Plessis 51kg

  17. MILITARY MISSION (5) T: Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott J: Rachel King 51kg

  18. SERPENTINE (1) T: Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott J: Jye McNeil 51kg

  19. VIRTUOUS CIRCLE (6) T: Liam Howley J: Craig Newitt 51kg

  20. MORE FELONS (23) T: Chris Waller J: Jamie Kah 50.5kg

  21. FUTURE HISTORY (13) T: Ciaron Maher & David Eustace J: Hollie Doyle 50kg

  22. INTERPRETATION (17) T: Ciaron Maher & David Eustace J: Teo Nugent 50kg

  23. KALAPOUR (14) T: Kris Lees J: Zac Lloyd 50kg

  24. TRUE MARVEL (10) T: Matthew Smith J: Ben Thompson 50kg

with AAP

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