Australian Michelle Payne has become the first female jockey to win Australia’s most prestigious horse race, the Melbourne Cup,BBC reports. The New Zealand-bred Prince of Penzance won despite being an outsider, with French horse Max Dynamite second and New Zealand horse Criterion third.
Frankie Dettori was banned for a month and fined A$20,000 (£9,338) for careless riding on Max Dynamite. Payne said winning was “everybody’s dream as a jockey in Australia”.
“My sister and I had a feeling I was going to win, and it turned out exactly how I thought it would,” the 30-year-old told reporters. Red Cadeaux broke down before the finish line with an injured leg, but officials said they did not believe the injury was life threatening.
Jamie Spencer was suspended for 14 days for causing interference on British-trained Big Orange, who finished fifth. Ms Payne, only the fourth female to ride in the Cup during its 155-year history, criticised gender inequality in racing.
“It’s such a chauvinistic sport, I know some of the owners wanted to kick me off,” said Payne, who has fought back from life-threatening race injuries. “It’s a very male-dominated sport and people think we (women) are not strong enough and all of the rest of it, but it’s not all about strength.
The Payne family is steeped in Australian racing. The youngest of 10 children, Michelle was raised by her father on the family farm in Victoria after her mother died when she was just six months old. Eight of her nine siblings have also been jockeys, but none has won a race as big as this.
For the Australian owners of Prince of Penzance, a horse that cost just $50,000 (£25,000; $36,000), it was a lucrative day as they will take home almost A$3.6m (£1.7m; $2.6m) in prize money. Dubbed “the race that stops a nation”, the Melbourne Cup is the world’s richest two-mile handicap race, worth A$6.2m ($4.2m; £2.9m).
Eleven international horses were among the 24 in the race. Only one of the local starters, Sertorius, was actually bred in Australia. Meanwhile, vets have reportedly operated on three-time Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux. Racing Victoria said earlier the horse had a suspected fetlock injury to his left foreleg.
“On-course veterinarians have splinted and stabilized the horse’s leg and he has now been transferred to the University of Melbourne Veterinary Clinic at Werribee to undergo further assessment,” it said in a statement .
Last year’s cup ended controversially after two horses died. Pre-race favourite Admire Rakti died after finishing last, while seventh-placed Araldo was put down after fracturing a cannon bone.