Melbourne Cup winning jockey Michelle Payne indicated that she was close to making a comeback to the saddle after a slow recovery from injuries sustained in a fall at Mildura in May.
Payne had to undergo pancreatic surgery as a result of the fall and has been slowly building up her strength and revealed yesterday that the last week she has been pain free from her injuries.
“I definitely am feeling like a comeback is more on the cards than anything else,” Payne said at the launch of the 2016 Spring Carnival, held on the steps of State Parliament House on Thursday night.
“I haven’t completely made up my mind but I’m leaning that way. I’m getting a lot closer.
“In the past week I’m totally pain-free and getting fitter and really excited for the Spring Carnival ahead.”
Payne created history when she became the first female jockey to win Australia’s most famous race, the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington last November on 100-1 shot Prince Of Penzance for premiership winning trainer Darren Weir.
Payne and Prince Of Penzance have been virtually inseparable throughout the seven year old’s career with the pair partnering up in twenty-four of his twenty-six race starts and she was hoping to team up again with the tough stayer in his defence of the Melbourne Cup trophy.
The history making jockey has been working hard over the last two months with regular track work sessions on top of her rehabilitation program but was disappointed not to be ready to ride Prince Of Penzance when he kicked off his Spring Carnival campaign in the Group 1 $500,000 New Zealand Bloodstock Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield last Saturday.
Promising young jockey Harry Coffey took the ride on Prince Of Penzance who beat one runner home when eleventh to stablemate Black Heart Bart over the unsuitable distance of 1400m.
Prince Of Penzance will have his next run in the Group 1 $500,000 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on September 10 in his build up to the Melbourne Cup.
Payne is hoping to mix her riding career with training a few horses after she was granted a dual jockey – trainer’s licence by Racing Victoria last week.