History making jockey Michelle Payne was back in the saddle at track work at Ballarat this morning as she continues to recover from a nasty fall at Mildura in May.
The Melbourne Cup winning jockey had to under pancreatic surgery after the horrific fall and has been working hard to recover and regain her fitness to get back to the races.
Payne, who will be granted a dual jockey – trainer’s licence when the new racing season begins next week, teamed up with her Melbourne Cup winning trainer Darren Weir when she rode Australian Guineas winner Palentino in a track gallop.
“I actually feel good, it was a bit of an unknown when I started back, not knowing what to expect but I can train normally and don’t even think about the injury,” Payne told G1X.com.au.
“I’m going to give myself every chance. It’s good to be able to get back riding but I need to get fit and then see how I feel.”
While most of Payne’s large close knit family would love to see her retire from race riding following a string of horror falls, her father Paddy Payne told her that she should make the final decision.
“He knows I want to ride and he loves watching me ride so he’s sitting on the fence and saying, ‘You do what you want to do,’” Payne said.
Payne created history during the 2015 Melbourne Spring Carnival when she became the first female jockey to win the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on $101 chance Prince Of Penzance.
Payne would love to be fit to try to defend her Melbourne Cup crown on Prince Of Penzance on the first Tuesday in November during this year’s Spring Carnival.
Prince Of Penzance has had one run since his Melbourne Cup victory and with Payne in the saddle ran second to stablemate Tonopah in the Group 3 $150,000 Robert & Fay Gerard R A Lee Stakes (1600m) at Morphettville on May 21.
Weir only gave Prince Of Penzance a one run Autumn campaign before a short break but the rising seven year old is back in work and will head towards the Group 2 $250,000 Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m) at Moonee Valley on October 22 on his way to the Melbourne Cup.
“He got through that run really well and he looks great too so hopefully things stay the way they are at the moment,” Weir said.
“It will be very similar to what Prince of Penzance had last year, a similar sort of path.”
In early Melbourne Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au Prince Of Penzance is marked as a $31 chance to defend his Melbourne Cup crown.
The Aidan O’Brien trained Order Of St George sits at the top of the market order at $11 ahead of Japanese stayer Fame Game and last year’s Melbourne Cup runner up Max Dynamite at $17.