November 13, 2015  |  Members Statement

Members Statement – Michelle and Stevie Payne

Mr CARROLL (Niddrie) — I rise to congratulate Niddrie’s most famous constituent, Michelle Payne, on her history‑making Melbourne Cup victory. The first woman to win the race that stops a nation — what an achievement!

Watched by millions and in front of more than 100 000 cheering fans, Michelle piloted Prince of Penzance to claim the 155th Melbourne Cup by half a length. Considered a long shot at 100 to 1 at the jump, Prince of Penzance left behind all fancied internationals and all favourites. It was a terrific race to watch, and Michelle’s skill and strength shone through. She had started that day from barrier 1, which was a spot drawn by her loving brother and devoted strapper, Stevie. She took Prince of Penzance to the front in the main straight and stayed there.

What really struck me and millions of others was the amazing story of Michelle and her brother that emerged once the race had been won. Michelle’s post‑race interview epitomised Australian sport, when she said to everyone watching worldwide that anyone who thinks a woman is not good enough for group 1 racing ‘can get stuffed’. In years to come Michelle’s victory will be considered a game changer for women’s sport. She is reported as saying in the online version of the Age of 4 November:

I’m so glad to win the Melbourne Cup and, hopefully, it will help female jockeys from now on to get more of a go. Because I believe that we sort of don’t get enough of a go and hopefully this will help.

It was impossible not to be moved by the pride on Stevie’s face, a man who had never been defined by his impairment, when he led a Melbourne Cup champion into the winners’ circle. Finally, the horse Prince of Penzance himself deserves much praise as does the trainer, Darren Weir, from Berriwillock in the Mallee.

The 2015 Melbourne Cup is a genuine sporting fairytale. Michelle had dreamt about it since the age of 5, and at 30 she had done it. Well done, Michelle — a fitting win on behalf of a stable of determined dreamers.